The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on May 17, 2010, that juveniles may not be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for a non-homicide. Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and a MacArthur Fellow, presented one of the cases before the Court. Stevenson argued, in Sullivan v Florida, that a sentence of life without parole for juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment and, therefore, unconstitutional. The Courts decision was issued in the companion case, Graham v. Florida.

Recognizing the developmental differences between adolescents and adults, the MacArthur Foundation has long supported efforts to reform juvenile justice systems. Research finds that young people are less culpable — and more amenable to rehabilitation — because of their immaturity.