People v. DorseyAnnotate this Case
In 1996, Dorsey (age 14) kicked open a door to a Chicago takeout restaurant and began firing a gun at customers, killing a 16-year-old and severely injuring 13-year-old Williams and 16-year-old Sims. At the hospital, Williams told police that Dorsey, whom she knew from school, was the shooter. The juvenile court allowed Dorsey’s prosecution to proceed in adult criminal court. Dorsey was convicted of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. A presentence report detailed Dorsey’s troubled home life, gang involvement, and previous encounters with the law. While awaiting trial, Dorsey obtained an eleventh-grade education with “very good grades.” The court heard extensive evidence in aggravation and in mitigation then sentenced Dorsey to consecutive terms, resulting in an aggregate sentence of 76 years’ imprisonment.
In 2014, Dorsey sought leave to file a successive petition for postconviction relief, arguing that his aggregate sentence violated the Eighth Amendment and the Supreme Court’s Miller v. Alabama holding, which forbids “a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” He argued that, although his sentence is not technically a natural life sentence, such a lengthy sentence imposed on a juvenile is sufficient to trigger Miller-type protections.
The Illinois Supreme Court held that good-conduct credit is relevant and that a sentence imposed pursuant to a statutory scheme that affords a juvenile an opportunity to be released from prison after serving 40 years or less of the term imposed does not constitute a de facto life sentence.