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I am sorry to hear about your nephews situation.
No, this is not true. Or rather, this is an exaggeration of something.
The Eight Amendment of the US Constitution prevents cruel and unusual punishment. Sometimes, the Eight Amendment is argued when someone is sentenced for a LONG TIME in incarceration for a rather light crime - this is called PROPORTIONALITY. See here
However, this is subjective, and it often fails as an argument. If he was found guilty of murder, then it is unlikely that he can argue this under such a scenario.
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