Can someone be sentenced to prison for more than life?
We raise this question after reading a story in the Arizona Republic on Dec. 6, 2011. The headline stated that “Goudeau gets 1200 more years.” This is on top of nine death sentences imposed for nine murders he was convicted of committing in 2005 to 2006.
Mark Goudeau was in his early forties when he went on a crime spree in 2005. It lasted a year, terrorizing the Phoenix area. Goudeau was found guilty of more than 50 robberies, rapes and sexual assaults. He maintained his innocence throughout his trial and sentencing. However, the physical evidence against him was overwhelming. It included ballistics, DNA evidence on one of the victims and several survivors, and on clothing found in his closet.
At sentencing on Dec. 5, 2011, the judge commented that “Our society reserves for the lowest of criminals the label terrorist. You deserve that label.” The total number of years came to 1,196 in addition to more than 400 years he was serving for other sexual assaults committed in 2005. The centuries of imprisonment in addition to the death sentences will guaranty that Goudeau won’t have a chance to add to his long list of victims.
Although the death penalty is no longer applicable for anyone under 18, juveniles can be sentenced to life in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a review in two cases challenging a life without parole sentence on two 14 year-olds. A decision is expected by summer of 2012. The Court decided in 2010 in Graham v. Florida that life without parole cannot be imposed on a minor in a non-homicide case. The Court left open a ray of hope for the juvenile who may rehabilitate himself after a period of time. The cases before the Court this term may take the reasoning of Graham one step further.