Convictions could be undone by State Supreme Court ruling

By Alex Davis |

Published 03/20 2014 05:50PM

Updated 03/21 2014 11:22AM

SPRINGFIELD -- A decision made by the Illinois Supreme Court Thursday could be used to undo hundreds of convictions. WCIA-3's Alex Davis keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

The Illinois Supreme Court took up the same decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court that mandatory life without parole for minors is cruel and unusual punishment.

"The issue is that this was mandatory life without parole sentences."

The Illinois Supreme Court is using a U.S. Supreme Court decision to reopen juvenile convictions in the state.

"It's not the most far-reaching, Supreme Court decision, but I do believe it is a very meaningful one."

In 1990, 14-year old Adolffo Davis was convicted in Cook County in the shooting deaths of two men in Chicago. Because of the law, he was sentenced to life without parole.

"They get charged as adults which doesn't always seem fair in this process."

His age and background were not taken into consideration.

"When these juveniles were coming before the court for sentencing, the judges were not able to use any of their discretion. They were not able to look at any individual's age, their situation in life. They were able to look at the individual's participation in the offense."

The new rules can be applied to any old case giving Davis and nearly 100 other convicts another hearing, perhaps another chance.

"Essentially they'll have to go back to the time of the crime and, I think, that some victims' families are just not wanting to relive the whole thing."

But doing so, could reopen old wounds for family members of victims. It's something advocate, Sister Marcelline Coch, prays they can handle.

"A juvenile brain is not fully developed in terms of decision-making and total understanding, so that is a significant piece in all of this."

As a maker of peace and justice, she hopes those who are hurt can heal.

"People can change. It's very possible."

In the case of Adolffo Davis, he was 14 when convicted. He's 38 years old now.

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