University of Southern California

Miller v. Alabama: A Proposed Solution for a Court that Feels Strongly Both Ways

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Note by Liza Little
From Volume 88, Number 6 (September, 2015)

Consider a fourteen-year-old boy whose entire life was spent moving in and out of foster care because his mother was an alcoholic and his stepfather was abusive. This boy suffered from early-onset depression, and had already attempted suicide four times by the age of fourteen. One night, the boy and his friend went to a trailer owned by his mother’s drug dealer to drink and do drugs. After the adult drug dealer passed out from consumption, the boy—seeing an opportunity for some quick cash—took the dealer’s wallet from his back pocket to steal his money. However, the dealer woke up and grabbed the boy by the throat. The boy’s friend hit the dealer with a nearby baseball bat. Once the boy was released, he repeatedly struck the drug dealer with the bat until he believed the man to be dead. To hide the evidence of the crime, the boys set fire to the drug dealer’s trailer, ultimately killing the man inside. This fourteen-year-old boy was sentenced to die in prison for his crimes, without any hope for release. This boy’s name is Evan Miller.

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