Joey Chandler committed murder in 2003, when he was 17. He is currently in prison in Mississippi, serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole.
If any juvenile offender can demonstrate rehabilitation, it is Joey Chandler. His disciplinary record over more than a decade of his incarceration has been virtually spotless. He has availed himself of the educational programming available in prison, including drug counseling, anger management counseling, completion of a GED and college-level coursework in Bible studies, construction-related skills training, automotive repair, and HVAC maintenance.
At a sentencing hearing, a former state trooper wrote to the judge: “I have known Joey for over 25 years. I do not condone the terrible crime that he committed but at the time Joey was influenced by peer pressure. I think given a second chance Joey could be an [asset] to the community.”
Four justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court found that Joey’s life without parole sentence violated the Eighth Amendment, writing: “Here, the record included substantial evidence of Chandler’s rehabilitation in prison following his conviction, including the testimony of Chandler’s wife, father, and two family friends, as well as numerous letters submitted on his behalf by other family members, friends, and members of the community. Chandler presented evidence that he would have a job and a place to live waiting for him if he was released from prison. Likewise, Chandler showed that his decade of imprisonment was virtually without disciplinary blemish and that he excelled in job training programs offered at the prison.”
But the five other Mississippi justices disagreed and affirmed Joey’s life without parole sentence.
We are challenging Joey’s sentence in the U.S. Supreme Court