Florida is the 10th state to rule that Miller v. Alabama must be applied retroactively to those already serving this sentence. As a result, nearly 200 people sentenced as children in Florida are newly eligible for resentencing under recently enacted Florida legislation.

The Miller decision held that it is a violation of the Eighth Amendment to impose an automatic sentence of life without parole for a crime committed by a person younger than 18.

The Supreme Court of Florida reasoned that “if Miller is not applied retroactively, it is beyond dispute that some juvenile offenders will spend their entire lives in prison while others with ‘indistinguishable cases’ will serve lesser sentences merely because their convictions and sentences were not final when the Miller decision was issued. The patent unfairness of depriving indistinguishable juvenile offenders of their liberty for the rest of their lives, based solely on when their cases were decided, weighs heavily in favor of applying the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller retroactively.”

Two other decisions by the Supreme Court of Florida strengthened protections under the Graham v. Florida ruling. Graham found that sentencing a child to life without parole for a non-homicide offense also violates the Eighth Amendment. The Supreme Court of Florida reasoned that two sentences–one 70-year sentence and one life-plus-60-years sentence–constituted life imprisonment and were therefore unconstitutional. The court reasoned that these de facto life sentences fail to provide children who have committed non-homicide crimes with meaningful future opportunities to demonstrate their maturity and rehabilitation.