Bobby Bostic will not be eligible for parole until he’s 112 years old, a cruel and unusual punishment for a conviction for robberies committed at 16.
WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Missouri filed a brief asking the Supreme Court of the United States overturn a 241-year prison sentence imposed on 16-year-old Bobby Bostic for his involvement in a pair of St. Louis robberies in which no one was seriously hurt. Bostic will not be eligible for parole until age 112, many decades past his life expectancy.
“The state of Missouri refers to age 112 as ‘very old age,’ ‘extreme old age,’ or simply ‘old age,’ but no euphemism can obscure the fact that Mr. Bostic will die in prison,” said Tony Rothert, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, which represents Bostic along with the national ACLU. “This case calls out for the court’s review. For crimes committed on one day without anyone getting seriously hurt, a 16-year-old boy was sentenced to die in prison.”
The trial judge in Bostic’s case sentenced him to die in prison, telling him, “you will die in the Department of Corrections.”
In 2010, the Supreme Court held in Graham v. Florida that the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment “prohibits the imposition of a life without parole sentence on a juvenile offender who did not commit homicide.”
The decision requires that the state provide a “meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” The court based the ruling in part on the growing scientific consensus that children are different and have unique capacity to grow and change.
The sentencing judge in Bostic’s case has since publicly regretted the punishment she gave him. In February, she joined 26 former judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials in signing a friend-of-the-court brief asking the Supreme Court to consider Bostic’s case.
Seventy-five criminal justice leaders — including former U.S. Solicitors General Kenneth Starr and Donald Verrilli, former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, and former FBI Director William Webster — are also urging the Supreme Court to overturn Mr. Bostic’s sentence.