Jacksonville man whose case helped change sentencing laws for juveniles to be released Tuesday

Terrance Graham was 19 years old when he became inmate J25706. He is now 37 years old.

Graham, who is from Jacksonville, spent almost two decades in Florida prison for crimes he committed as a minor. His case, which ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, led to a landmark decision about the sentencing of juvenile offenders.

Graham is being released from prison Tuesday after a 9 a.m. hearing at the Duval County Courthouse, where he will be greeted by family and supporters.

In 2003, when he was 16 years old, Graham and three other teens tried to rob a barbecue restaurant in Jacksonville. They didn’t get any money. But Graham, who was charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony armed burglary with assault and battery.

He was released, and six months later was charged with home invasion robbery when he was 17 years old. That made him eligible for life in prison, according to Florida law at the time.

Graham was 19 years old when he was sentenced to life without parole in 2006.

Four years later, Graham’s case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that life in prison without a chance of parole is cruel and unusual punishment for defendants under the age of 18 who have not been convicted of murder.

In 2012, Graham was resentenced to 25 years in prison. Since then, the Florida Legislature has passed a law allowing for criminals sentenced as teens to have a chance for review after 15, 20 or 25 years served, depending on the crimes.

A group called, PleadThe8th, which advocates for juvenile justice reform, is working to prevent cases like Graham’s from happening again. Members plan to hold a public rally in support of Graham’s release and ongoing advocacy efforts.

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