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50-Year Sentences for Juveniles Struck Down in Landmark Ruling by California Supreme Court

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The California Supreme Court decided Monday that juveniles may not be sentenced to 50 years or longer in prison for kidnapping, rape and sodomy.

University of California at Berkley Law Professor and Justice Goodwin Liu testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing to become Judge for the U.S. Ninth Circuit on April 16, 2010, in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

University of California at Berkley Law Professor and Justice Goodwin Liu testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing to become Judge for the U.S. Ninth Circuit on April 16, 2010, in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In a 4-3 ruling, the state high court said a 50-year sentence for minors was “functionally equivalent” to life without parole.

“A young person who knows he or she has no chance to leave prison for 50 years ‘has little incentive to become a responsible individual,'” wrote Justice Goodwin Liu, citing a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that severely restricted life sentences for juveniles.

The California court ruled in favor of Leonel Contreras and William Rodriguez, who were 16 when they attacked two teenage girls in San Diego County in 2011.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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