Currently, over 2,500 people are serving a life sentence without the option of parole for crimes committed as adolescents. Fortunately, this policy is not considered in all states. Twelve states have discontinued life sentences without the option of parole for juveniles. Almost two- thirds of life without parole sentences for juveniles (JLWOP) happens in five states. Seventy-three children were ages 13 or 14 at time that their crime was committed. Research has been conducted that proves the vast difference in brain development of a child compared to an adult. Society does not allow minors to purchase cigarettes or alcohol, enlist into the military or enter into a legal binding agreement such as an apartment lease until the age of 18 or older because of the knowledge that minors are not mature enough to make certain decisions. However, when a minor commits homicide we allow them to be sentenced as an adult and disregard their partial brain development and decreased culpability.
It is the responsibility of society to protect our children from cruel and unusual punishment such as juvenile life without parole sentences. The policy brief will give a history of the juvenile justice system, trends, and current state. Brief will also address importance of the problem and recommendations for reform of this policy.
Context and Importance of the Problem
Almost everyone would agree that children are the core of our future. Therefore, it is imperative that we have laws/policies in place that will protect them from cruel and unusual punishment in any capacity. However, much debate continues to arise concerning mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders. In attempting to change a social policy concerning the juvenile justice system it is important to address the concern in its context. Therefore, reviewing the history...