The Supreme Court will hear arguments next week on whether it is cruel and unusual punishment to sentence juveniles to life in prison.
The controversial hearing will be held on March 20 and will focus on two separate cases involving offenders who were 14 years old when they committed murder. The offenders, Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson, are now ages 23 and 26, respectively.
Michigan has six convicts who were 14 at the time their crimes were committed. Nationwide, there are approximately 73 serving life without parole for homicide cases, Michigan Live reported.
Alabama's Equal Justice Initiative will argue the case on behalf of Miller and Jackson. In a recent brief filed by the advocacy group, they argue the court should weigh the offender's level of maturity at the time of their crimes, because teenagers are "given to impulsive, heedless, sensation-seeking behavior and excessive peer pressure," the brief reads.
Attorneys representing the state of Arkansas have pointed to the 10th Amendment, which they interpret as giving the state the right to run their prison system according to their own standards.
According to AHN News, Miller, of Speake, Ala., was sentenced to life without parole for beating a 52-year-old man with a baseball bat and burning him alive in a mobile home. Jackson, of Blytheville, Ark., was convicted in the shooting death of a video store clerk.
Despite the harshness of the crimes committed by Miller and Jackson, they have a number of supporters. In an interview with MSNBC.com, Kim Taylor-Thompson, a professor of clinical law at the New York University School of Law, said she agrees with Alabama's Equal Justice Initiative.
"No one is excusing the fact of what happened," she told the website. "What we are saying is: Did these two young men engage in thought processes that would make us say today they're the type of individuals who can never be rehabilitated, never change and be locked up to never see the light of day?"