Diane Lefer: Though the Supreme Court ruled on May 17 in Graham v. Florida that juveniles must not be sentenced to life without parole for any crime short of homicide, California continues to impose sentences so extreme they are the effective equivalent of life without the possibility of parole.
Diane Lefer: Though the Supreme Court ruled on May 17, that juveniles must not be sentenced to life without parole for any crime short of homicide, we expected no surprise and no mercy when we arrived in court Friday morning for the sentencing of young Tedi Snyder. But Judge Ohta did not hand down the preordained 80-year-to-life-sentence. Not because such a sentence is, in effect, equivalent to life without parole, but rather because he, the judge, was recovering from surgery.
Diane Lefer: The right to a speedy trial turns out to mean nothing when you’re a juvenile, even a juvenile being tried as an adult. After almost three years in lockup, with no trial scheduled, her son agreed to plead guilty to get it over with. “Even the judge couldn’t believe it. He said, ‘They gave you a strike and a felony for that?’”