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Hope for Juveniles Serving Life Without Parole

Hope for Juveniles Serving Life Without Parole

There are 2,500 juveniles serving life sentences without the possibility of parole in the United States, but activists and lawmakers are fighting to make these sentences unconstitutional. On Thursday, “the California Assembly passed a bill by the slimmest of margins that would give juvenile lifers in that state a shot at freedom” (Huffington Post). The U.S. Supreme Court also recently ruled mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles to be unconstitutional.

Sentences of life without parole are typically given to juveniles who have committed premeditated murder. In 2011, 13-year-old Jordan Brown became the youngest person to face life without parole after he shot and killed his father’s pregnant fiancee.

Many, including attorney Michael Harris, believe that life without parole sentences are too severe for juvenile offenders. He says, “Because their brain is still developing, they have the ability to rehabilitate. They are more likely to rehabilitate than an adult” (Huffington Post).

According to Amnesty International, the United States prison system is alone in sentencing juveniles to life without parole. While several other countries technically allow the practice, the US is the only country to actually have enforced it in recent years. Although the recent Supreme Court decision shows that Americans are leaning away from the practice, it has not yet been abolished.

Support for the sentences

Some family members and friends of victims who have been murdered by juveniles defend the practice of life without parole sentencing.

Maggie Elvey, the wife of a shooting victim, said, “They say they deserve a second chance, but the victims don’t get a second chance” (Huffington Post).

Others believe that some juvenile offenders are beyond rehabilitation and should serve life sentences for the protection of the public.

What do you think? Should juveniles serve life without parole? Or should they benefit from chances to reduce their sentences and rejoin society as rehabilitated adults? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Related Stories:

Mississippi Bans Solitary Confinement for Juveniles

SCOTUS Strikes Life Without Parole for Juvenile Offenders

In Alabama Juveniles Can Choose Church or Jail

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94 comments

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12:17AM PDT on Sep 3, 2012

No juvenile should be serving life without parole.

5:31AM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

Sorry, some actions cannot be reversed. They took a life. Let them lead productive lives behind bars. Their victims didnt get a second chance. And if they kill again? Stakes are too high.

8:32AM PDT on Aug 25, 2012

AMERICA IS SUCH A BLOOD THIRSTY COUNTRY. GUNS = MURDER.
TAKE AWAY THE GUNS - YOU REDUCE MURDER CRIMES HUGELY.
EDUCATION IS LACKING IN AMERICA ABOUT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF CORRECT AND PROPER GUN CONTROL.

NO WHERE IN EUROPE ARE GUNS PERMITTED LIKE THE USA AND NOWHERE IN THE WORLD HAS THE NUMBERS OF MURDERS BY GUNS.

DOES THAT STATISTIC MAKE YOU PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN ?

1:10PM PDT on Aug 23, 2012

Personally, I am opposed to life sentences either with or without the possibility of Parole. Generally the only reason for courts in most countries imposing a life sentences either with or without the possibility of parole, is because the convicted person, irrespective of age, has cold bloodedly murdered or seriously maimed another human being and have shown no genuine remorse for their vile deed. In other words, they have behaved in the same way has a dangerous wild animal.
Therefore they should be dealt with in the same way that we would normally deal with a dangerous wild animal, which is to euthanise it.

2:50PM PDT on Aug 22, 2012

There are several factors to be considered here. First and most important is that we have a **juvenile** justice system for a reason -- the brain is in major disarray in the teen years as it re-organizes, and the prefrontal cortex, where decision making is done, doesn't finish maturing until after 25. Add the hormonal spikes to the teen years and you get a double whammy of potentially bad / criminal behavior that wouldn't occur in the same individual a few years later. This is why the tobacco company is so desperate to hook people before they turn 18 or 20 -- almost none will smoke ever if they don't start by then. I believe it is criminal to treat children as adults. Witness that they only societies that seem to besides ours are the super-repressive theocracies who kill at the slightest whim.

Second major factor is that most adults are not "put away" for life even for murder. Whether they get rehabilitated or not (and one fervently hopes most do), it just doesn't happen (that they stay in jail).

Third, most murders are committed by people who know the victim, usually as a result of some emotional conflict. In some European countries, recognizing this and that the individuals are not a general threat to the rest of the population, murderers are place in house arrest rather than in jails.

Fourth, if we cannot believe in the power of change, there is no hope in the world. We know criminals can and do change. They can get medication if the problem is a brain ch

7:57PM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

Those of you who advocate life without parole and the extreme draconian sentences imposed in the US should not be Care 2 members . You just don't get it . The US has more people per capita in prison than Iran or North Korea or anywhere else. The perverted so called US justice system is without question the most vile and corrupt system in history.

7:56PM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

Those of you who advocate life without parole and the extreme draconian sentences imposed in the US should not be Care 2 members . You just don't get it . The US has more people per capita in prison than Iran or North Korea or anywhere else. The perverted so called US justice system is without question the most vile and corrupt system in history.

7:49PM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

I believe anyone who advocates life without parole should get life without parole !

4:24PM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

hmmm

4:24PM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

hmmm

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