(Photo: Courtesy of Bobbi Jamriska)
Nineteen years ago, Bobbi Jamriska’s younger sister was found murdered in a Pennsylvania schoolyard. As Jamriska grieved, one thing brought her solace: When a court found her sister’s 16-year-old ex-boyfriend guilty and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
“When you get up every day, you think about what happened, but at least you know that there was that one constant, that life-without-parole was going to make sure that you never had to relive that part of it,” said Jamriska, 40, who lives in Pittsburgh.
But three months ago, the Supreme Court struck down mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles as cruel and unusual punishment. While the June 25 ruling wasn’t necessarily designed to be applied retroactively, some youth advocates are trying to use it to free so-called “juvenile lifers,” setting off a series of battles over what to do with the approximately 2,100 convicted murderers who were handed mandatory life-without-parole sentences for acts committed as youths.