[Guest post by DRJ]
I was reading this Guardian article about the recent death (at age 77) of the “longest-serving UK prisoner.” I’m not sure why I decided to read it except 77 seems young to me for the “longest-serving” prisoner. I feel sure the US has inmates serving life sentences who were sentenced at a young age and lived to be far older than 77.
However, my question has to do with the last paragraph of the article:
“Straffen’s death comes as the European Court of Justice reviews whether “whole life” prison sentences are a violation of human rights. If lifelong imprisonment had been outlawed, Straffen’s case would have been referred to the high court and he would have received a new minimum term.”
This sounds like the European Court of Justice, which I assume is part of the European Union, is or was considering whether a life sentence is cruel and inhuman punishment and should be outlawed. If so, this seems like big news to me, especially given the US Supreme Court’s recent tendency to refer to foreign law in death penalty cases.
I’ve searched for references to “whole life” prison sentences (and life sentences), human rights, and the European Court of Justice without success. Does anyone know about this or can you help me find something on it? Thanks,