Supreme Court to review juvenile inmate sentences

The Iowa Supreme Court is reviewing the sentences of five Scott County inmates who committed crimes as juveniles and are serving life-sentences.

A decision made in June of 2012 by the Supreme Court held that mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders was cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Later that month, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad changed the sentences of 38 Iowa inmates from life sentences to sixty years without the possibility of parole. They were not receiving credit for earned time, according to the Scott County Attorney, Michael Walton.

On Friday, August 16, 2013, while ruling in State vs. Ragland, the Iowa Supreme Court said that Branstad’s change still violates the eighth amendment as well as a section of Iowa’s Constitution, said Walton.

Currently there are five Scott County inmates serving mandatory life sentences for first degree murder crimes they committed as juveniles.

Walton said he intends on consulting the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and other state attorneys to make guidelines for dealing with similar rulings.