The Fight to End Life Without Parole for Texas Children

Dear Supporters,

We wanted to share the news that our client Eric Johnson has been resentenced. When he was a child, Eric received an unconstitutional sentence of mandatory juvenile life without parole. The U.S. Supreme Court declared that such sentences are unconstitutional over a decade ago. But Eric, and many others, are still serving these unconstitutional sentences in Texas prisons.

Now Eric has a parole-eligible sentence and will have access to rehabilitative programs from which he was previously barred, programs that could help him prepare to return to society.

In Miller v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that mandatory sentences of life without parole for children are cruel and unusual. The Supreme Court explained that children are more vulnerable to peer pressure and less able to separate themselves from negative influences than adults, particularly if those children grow up in traumatic environments. Moreover, children’s brains are malleable and developing. With time and maturity, children have a tremendous capacity to grow and change.

We are thrilled that Eric’s unconstitutional sentence has been overturned, but we still have more work to do. We are advocating for four other clients who were sentenced to mandatory life without parole when they were children and are still serving these unconstitutional sentences in Texas prisons. Until everyone who is eligible for Miller relief in Texas is resentenced, the fight continues.

With gratitude,

Burke Butler
Executive Director
Texas Defender Service