The decision, written by Justice Sarah Warren, said a life-without-parole sentence is allowed under state law and does not constitute a sentence enhancement when applied to juveniles. For those reasons, it does not require a jury to make specific findings to justice its imposition, the ruling said.
The General Assembly could change the law to make that a prerequisite, but it has not chosen to do so, Warren wrote.
Raines’ lawyers, Mark Loudon-Brown and Atteeyah Hollie from the Southern Center for Human Rights, expressed disappointment with the ruling.
“We believe that no child is so far beyond redemption to be sentenced to death in prison,” they said in a statement. “But as long as Georgia continues to do so, it is imperative that every safeguard is in place to give children a chance at fair treatment. This includes the right to a jury to decide whether to send a child to prison to die.”