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New sentencing hearing for juvenile violent crime

A court in Florida will soon address a sentencing issue that could change the fate of a 24-year-old man who was previously convicted of killing his sister. The case is headed back to court for resentencing, based on the fact that the United States Supreme Court has banned the handing down of mandatory life sentences for juveniles convicted of murder. This juvenile violent crime case marks the first in Miami-Dade County to have the sentence reassessed.

The young man who will stand before the court was 14 years of age when prosecutors say that he cut his 11-year-old sister's throat after raping the girl. His history, however, is a difficult one to hear, and likely played a significant role in leading him to such violent acts. It is these factors that attorneys are hoping the court will weigh.

The boy was left in El Salvador by his parents at a very young age. He was raised by relatives, in conditions of poverty that are hard for Americans to even imagine. He was surrounded by gang violence, and rarely spoke with his parents. They eventually brought him to live in the United States, but when he arrived he went through a time of deep resentment against his parents.

Since his conviction and incarceration, he has improved his life and made a range of good choices. He has had a nearly perfect record of behavior in prison, and has even become a tutor within the institution. Experts brought in have testified that he could eventually be fit to reenter society.

As the court weighs this difficult decision, they will consider these factors as well as the details of the juvenile violent crime trial that led to the conviction. The outcome of the resentencing hearing could have a great deal of impact, not only for the young people who are currently incarcerated in Florida institutions but also for their families. Many of those loved ones want nothing more than for their children to have the chance to live free and productive lives.

Source: Miami Herald, "Judge to rule on new sentence for Miami-Dade teen who raped and murdered sister", David Ovalle, Feb. 2, 2015

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