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Is sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole constitutional?

 We've all done something bad. But imagine doing something bad, so bad that you go to jail for the rest of your life, with no chance of parole. Would this be considered a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which protects us from "cruel and unusual punishment"?

That is the heart of the issue of the Supreme Court cases Sullivan v. Florida and Graham v. Florida. In both cases, the juveniles were found guilty of offenses in which no one was killed, and they received life sentences without the chance of release. These two are among the over one hundred cases across the country in which a juvenile was sentenced to life in prison without parole for non-homicide offenses.

In Sullivan, Joe Sullivan was sent away for life for raping an elderly woman when he was 13. The case of Graham focuses on Terrance Graham, who was implicated in armed robberies when he was 16 and 17. In both cases, the judge ruled against the advice of the Department of Corrections and gave the stiffest punishment allowable by law.

In Sullivan, the judge said that he was “beyond help,” and the judge who sentenced Graham to life without parole stated during sentencing: “If I can't do anything to help you, then I have to . . . protect the community from your actions.”

These cases come after the 2005 Supreme Court case Roper v. Simmons, where the court ruled 5 to 4 that it is unconstitutional to execute anyone convicted of a crime when he or she was a juvenile.

Now the issue is whether letting a juvenile spend the rest of his or her life in prison is constitutional. Furthermore, the issue of whether prisons are meant to rehabilitate criminals or keep them away from society is being raised.

Bryan Stevenson, who represents Joe Sullivan, concedes that there is a difference between the death penalty and life without parole. But he says that a life term is different from other prison sentences because it denies the prisoner any hope for a future. "They're just two different kinds of death sentences," he said before the court. "One is death by execution, the other death by incarceration."

Nineteen states, including Louisiana, have filed a brief supporting life sentences without parole for juveniles in non-homicide cases. "I disagree that the juvenile crimes are any less culpable than the adult crimes," said Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell in an NPR interview. "These are young criminals. That's what they are, and the ones who are getting these sentences are the worst of those."

The court seemed divided on the issue. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, “The confusion and uncertainty about the moral responsibility of a 13-year-old is such that it is a cruel thing to do to remove from that individual his entire life. You see, we are at the extreme."

Justice Samuel Alito disagreed with Breyer, remarking, "You are saying that, no matter what this person does, commits the most horrible series of non-homicide offenses that you can imagine, a whole series of brutal rapes, assaults that render the victim paraplegic but not dead, no matter what, the person is sentenced, shows no remorse whatsoever, the worst case you can possibly imagine, that person must at some point be made eligible for parole?"

Update: May 17, 2010

In a victory for the rights for juveniles, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that a sentence of life without parole is unconstitutional for anyone under 18. The majority opinion, which follows a 2005 ruling that executing minors is unconstitutional, said the punishment must be interpreted in light of the country's "evolving standards of decency."

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, went on to say, "By denying the defendant the right to enter the community, the state makes an irrevocable judgment about that person's value and place in society." Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a dissenting opinion, said that interpreting the Eighth Amendment with the changing societal standards is "entirely the court's creation." He argued that the "question of what acts are 'deserving' of what punishments is bound so tightly with questions of morality and social conditions as to make it, almost by definition, a question for legislative resolution."

What do you think?

Should a juvenile be sentenced to life in prison without parole for a crime in which no one dies? Does the age of the person matter? Is prison meant to rehabilitate, punish or isolate from society someone who has committed a crime? How should the court rule? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!


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Comments
2/4/2014
Mission Viejo, CA
Madison Rodriguez
Capistrano Valley High School
Honestly, I don't believe in the death penalty. It's better to just give someone a life sentence thatn cut there life short. This especially rings true when it comes to juveniles. Any minor should never be killed for a crime that they committed. It has been psychologically proven that a majority of children grow out of their criminal mindset, and instead of sentencing minors to life without parole, why not just send them to rehab centers to teach them how to be a functioning member of society. So many people who are in prison now for something that they did 20 years ago have grown and changed so much and regret that one stupid thing that they did when they were a kid. People change and grow and learn how to be a good person. Some just need a push in the right direction. Instead of shutting kids away in prison for life, why not try helping them through it.

12/4/2013
Mission Viejo, CA
Madison Rodriguez
Capistrano Valley High School
Honestly, I don't believe in the death penalty. It's better to just give someone a life sentence thatn cut there life short. This especially rings true when it comes to juveniles. Any minor should never be killed for a crime that they committed. It has been psychologically proven that a majority of children grow out of their criminal mindset, and instead of sentencing minors to life without parole, why not just send them to rehab centers to teach them how to be a functioning member of society. So many people who are in prison now for something that they did 20 years ago have grown and changed so much and regret that one stupid thing that they did when they were a kid. People change and grow and learn how to be a good person. Some just need a push in the right direction. Instead of shutting kids away in prison for life, why not try helping them through it.

11/22/2013
Taylors/ South Carolina
Kyle Reid
Alexander/ Eastside High School
Is the death penalty constitutional? Yes Should states be permitted to carry out the death penalty? No What kinds of restrictions, if any, should be imposed? Or does the practice violate the constitutional right to protection against cruel and unusual punishment? Explain your answers. You have to say more than yes or no. Yes there should be restrictions to the death penalty. Somebody shouldn’t be sentenced to death for stealing a candy bar.

11/22/2013
taylors sc
james clingan
talexander
Is the death penalty constitutional? yes Should states be permitted to carry out the death penalty? yes What kinds of restrictions, if any, should be imposed? Or does the practice violate the constitutional right to protection against cruel and unusual punishment? I do believe that there should be some restrictions as to when the death penalty should be applied. Unless the crime is extremely heinous and brutal, someone shouldn't be put to death.

11/8/2013
staunton va
dalton
shelburne
i think kids shouldnt be sentenced to life without parole i think it is just wrong

10/10/2013
Aynor South Carolina
Dannielle
Aynor High School
i think it depends but if your under the age of 17 you should still be considered a juvenile. no matter the crime thats committed. take it from someone thats in the situation...

7/12/2013
Belmont/MA
Jackson
Belmont High School
I read all the comments that kids shouldn't be put in prison for life for crimes that are not murder. I guess that these people have never been the victim of a crime. If you have been raped or sexually abused by a person under 18 I think you would have a different view. If your mother or father was paralyzed because a kid stabbed them in the neck I think you would have a different view. If a person 15 year old beat your grandmother senseless and cut her hand off because he wanted to steal 20 dollars off her I think you have a different view. Why do we always focus on what's right for criminals instead of focusing what is justice for the victims?

2/16/2013
Spring Lake, NC
Kimberly
Fayetteville Technical Comunity College
It is wrong to sentence anybody regardless of age to life without parole for a crime where nobody has died. Sometimes it depends on the situation, like if someone is left paralized or was pregnant and lost the baby. But to sentence a child just 10, 12,13,or 14 to life is wrong....sometimes all they need is a caring family.....someone to set rules and examples. Why should they be punished so harshly?

2/4/2013
Raleigh, NC
Mayim
Mrs, Bartlett Needham B. Broughton High
I dont think its okay to just lock a kid are teen up for life. Its just not fair to the kid and its not fair to there love ones. Yes they did commited a crime. Yes they should punished for it. but thats doesn't mean for there whole life. That total crosses all guide lines to the 18th amendment. Its fine to teach them a lesson are two, but that lesson should not take all there life. How would you fill if that was your child ! Give them another chance. Make them do the time but not without parole not a kid they make mistake. Its are job to teach them and help them learn from them dont just give up on them so fast. Put yourself in there shoes would you want another chance at life? I would love to have a secound chance at life. Thats the real question u should be asking yor self.

1/28/2013
california
Rose
Mrs.Peterson
Teens should not be placed in adult jail because its not fair or constitutional. kids are not fully mature yet and adults will take advantage of that in prison which is why there are a lot of suicides committed by teens in adult prison.

11/29/2012
GA
genesis g.
ms.nash langford middle school
i think that teens should go to jail because if grown ups go to jail so should teens they dont get special delivers

11/1/2012
Charlotte N.C
Daniel Reyes
Ms.Hudson
To start, I think they should give the guy a second chance, I mean like they should give him a chance to redeem himself. Also, if he does keep on acting bad they should not send him to an adult jail, but a juvenile detention center. An adult jail is a place were kids would have a greater chance of suicide. they could get raped or even sexually molested. Also kids and teens undeveloped minds could do worst things in jail and become mentally ill. Adult jail is not a place for kids and teens!!!

10/25/2012
North Star Schools
Samara
Mrs. Campbell
To give juveniles the chance without parole is unconstitutional for nonhomicide trials. Minors are very easily manipulated compared to adults. These juveniles are young children. 13 when you're going through puberty and 17 when you're reaching adulthood is a little frightening. I'm not saying their actions should go unpunished but they should not be denied the chance for adulthood.

10/11/2012
Rudyard MT
donovan u.
Mis.Campbell/ Northstar
I think that if they did not kill anyone, they should not be sentenced to life without parole, But if they did kill some one they should be sentenced to life without parole. They killed some they are going to prison no matter what.

10/3/2012
Bettendorf, Iowa
Chris
Bettendorf High
To all of you uneducated students saying that he shouldnt get life without parole, the juvenile had commited several felonies and wasnt learning anything. It was NOT a one time thing.

5/6/2012
Los Angeles, CA
Maria
California State University Long Beach
Juveniles should not be charged with life in prison without parole. Our country has laws that protect teenagers from adults. We all agree that 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 year old's do not have the mature capability of making choices like drinking, smoking, driving, voting, engaging in contacts, getting married, quitting school, getting tattoo's, and so on. Yet we contradict ourselves by saying that these same teenagers are capable of weighing proper consequences for their choices. Many of these young criminals come from broken homes, poverty, domestic violence and irresponsible parents. A sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison sounds fair but not life. We all must remember what is what like when we were teenagers. Can we all agree that the person we were at that age is not the person we are now. We must give this kids a second chance.

4/19/2012
Fresno/CA
Mai Lee Vang
Fresno City College
Juveniles who committed murder should be held in prison life without parole. We don't want to have those kind of people to out community because they are a bad influence on younger kids and they are a danger to socitey. Second chances won't ever change a person. Once they had the guts to kill someone they are likely to go and kill someone again. Just keep them locked up. It's best for the community

3/5/2012
Baltimore/Maryland
Brian
Jones-Prettyman/Baltimore Talent Development
Juvenile restrictions should go up to at least two years unless it depends on what you did. If it's like murder you should get all the way until you're grown. But, if you state something from someone, like someone's money or necklace at gun point, I think you should get about 2-3 years if you didn't hurt anyone.

3/1/2012
Pennsylvania
Haili
Mr. Mackley
no.

2/9/2012
Stratford texas
ethan
mrs rife
yes it is justified cause it is not as bad as the death penalty

10/19/2011
Sidney, MT
Ande
Mrs. Fontana
I think sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole is unconstitutional. Young people are influenced and are very pressured by there peers. Many people grow up and get older and realize what they did was stupid, and if they had the chance they would change what they did. People change and they should have the chance to start over. I think sentencing juveniles to life in prison is without the chance of parole is not right.

9/17/2010

Chris
Warren Hills Regional, Washington, NJ
Cynthia- I agree that younger people are more influenced than older people, but does that make it OK to commit a crime? Besides voting, holding office, and buying products like alcohol and cigarettes, juveniles have the same tights as adults. Shouldn't they be punished the same way? If an adult were to receive life sentence for a crime that did not include loss of life, I fully believe that a juvenile should be charged the same way, even if they are "more easily influenced." Are you also trying to say that the US should release prisoners to stabilize the economy? how on earth would that help America? $51 million would not even put a dent in our debt, and it would never help the American people or our government- we would be living in chaos.

8/20/2010

Cindy
Buckingham, Californai
That is truly not fair. No one was killed but the guilty ones are going to jail for the rest of their lifes. come on 5 to 10 years is good enough for a person to recognize that they did something bad. In the other hand if they were to kill someone i do belive that they should go to prison for longer but get out when they turn 70 or sommething. I dont belive that an older person is capable of harming someone or something.

4/29/2010

Justine
LMS, Diamond Bar, CA
A crime is not okay for any one to commit. Children and adults shouldnt be treated equally when it comes to sentencing. Children are not as mature as adults, therefore they should not be treated exactly like an adult. A child should have the opportunity for parole for a second chance. I disagree with Shanah N. from greenville ms. I dont beleive that you can teach people that killing is wrong by killing.

4/2/2010

Shanah N.
greenvill wessterhigh, greenville ms
if you take someone life then your life should be takein

3/21/2010

Cynthia
Robert Frost, Germantown, Maryland
No, it really isn't fair. It is true, younger people are more easily influenced than elders. But did you know that every year, the US spends more than $51 million on supporting the prisoners? Why can't they instead spend it to help stabilize the economy?

3/12/2010

Ashley B. frank 5th period
NEHS , philadelphia, PA
I believe that juviniles who have not committed murder should not recieve life sentences. They did not take away anyones right to live, and they should have their right to "live" taken away either, unless they put someone in the hospital for life. Everyone makes mistakes, and younger people are more easily influenced then older people, so teenagers actually have a chance to change their life rather then adults.

3/11/2010

Travis
Warren Area High School, Warren/PA
Students and childeren under the age of 21 should not be subjected to the life in prison without a possibility of parole. People that young should be aloud to make mistakes, its how people learn. Punishments should differ from the crime committed yet no one that young who's life has not even started have it taken away for mistakes which anyone can make. People are not always as bad as a witness may see them, or a jury may judge them, or the way a judge may rule them. Most the time the defendent needs a chance to show they are not evil as no one is and with a second chance everyone can do good.

3/11/2010

Kurtis
WAHS, Warren, PA
I dont think that kids should be given life sentences for non homicide cases. Its not right to give somebody life in prison who has their entire life in front of them. People make mistakes everyday. If you dont kill someone you dont deserve to go to prision for the rest of your life. They should be forced to go to therapy and/or be sent to placement homes until they start to show improvement.

3/11/2010

Maria
Warren Area High School, Warren/PA
When any crime is committed some sort of consequence should ensue. But sentencing a juvenile to life in prison for a non-homicidal offense seems rather extreme. Although they shouldn't be simply let off the hook, young people do things they regret years down the road. Age shouldn't matter, but life in prison should be a charge only if another person is killed. And the fact that there is no chance of parole would definitely qualify, in my opinion, as "cruel and unusual punishment." These 2 cases should raise questions about the rulings of our legal system.

1/19/2010

James
GAMP, Philadelphia/PA
I think that if they did not kill anyone, they should not be sentenced to life without parole. I think that the courts should rule that they do get a serious punishment, but not life. I do think that the age matters, but only if the person is very young, such as 12, 13, and 14. Anything over that, without mental or physiological problems, they should be tried as though they were an adult. I think this because if they are old enough to know right from wrong and make the decision themselves to commit whatever felony is taking place, then they should get what they deserve. Not let off easily for because of their age.

1/15/2010

Jonathan
Nimitz High, Irving, Tx
If a teen commits a crime, no matter how grave, if he or she has something psychologically wrong with him or her, they do not deserve a death sentence. What they do deserve is a rehabilitation center.

1/15/2010

Rachel
Nimitz HS, Irving, TX
A sentence of life in prison without parole is extreme for a juvenile. When people are young they do not always fully understand the consequences of their actions because they have not fully matured. So I would consider “cruel and usual,” and unnecessary punishment. If someone committed a crime when they were 15 and were sent to prison for life, it would be a complete waste of what little life they have lived. I do, however, think they should be punished for their crime, just not so severely.

1/14/2010

Priscilla
Nimitz, Irving, Texas
I think it depends on the case. If a juvenile commits a particularly atrocious crime and is of sound mind, then yes, I would recommend a life sentence if they cannot change. But if a juvenile can turn their life around and become a potential member of society, then they should be granted a smaller sentence.

1/13/2010

Olivia
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
I think, no matter what the age, a person can be sentenced to life in prison for a crime in which no one dies. By the teen years, people are aware of what they are doing and are aware that there will be some sort of punishment for those actions. And if those actions are rape or armed robbery, then yes, a consequence of life without parole is justified. I think prison is supposed to do all three; rehabilitate, punish and isolate. It is supposed to make people who have a lighter sentence think about what they did and maybe realize it was wrong. Punishment comes from spending time in a cell, eating whatever they give you, and being completely humiliated by other inmates. And lastly, keep society safe from rapists, murderers and such.

1/11/2010

Josh R.
Nimitz, Irving, TX
I believe that sentencing a juvenile to prison without parole could be argued in two different perspectives. The decision of sentencing the criminals focuses on the crime or crimes committed. However, facts have shown that juveniles have more impulse to doing things they wouldn’t normally do and has to be taken into consideration. But I also think that the only way a juvenile should get life in prison is if they kill someone. My reason for saying this is because at a young age we're taught what's right and wrong and killing someone is wrong. And if you don't do this to them for taking someone's life how can you do this to a grown woman or a grown man. It would be basically telling them that while you’re a kid you could get away with murder but you can't when you’re an adult.

1/11/2010

Christian I.
Nimitz hs, Irving, TX
If a juvenile does something bad that has him go to court and they give him a life sentence then he should have comited homocide at a serious level. They can't send a juvenile to life in prison for not murdering some one. I mean not everybody is perfect and they are going to screw up sometimes but they are still young us juveniles don't have enough sense to tell us when something is a bad idea until something goes wrong. Age matters in identifying the time that they have to be in jail for thei crime. It could be a slap on the wrist or up to 40 or 50 years in jail but not a life sentence.

1/11/2010

Marissa
Nimitz H S, Irving, TX
I think that life without parole is unfair to anyone who hasn't committed a murder. However, this was a pretty brutal crime in the case of Sullivan v. Florida. Seriously, if you're 13 years old and rape an old woman you have some serious issues that you can only sit and reflect on in prison. I don't think Sullivan should be put away for life at all, but I do think he should get a harsh punishment... and maybe some therapy. That kind of crime is just not acceptable. In the case of Graham v. Florida, this kid was a repeat offender. Obviously, his first punishment wasn't enough to get him to stop the crimes he's committing that sent him to prison in the first place. No, his punishment shouldn't be cruel and unusual by any means but it should be harsh enough to get him to think twice before commiting the crime again. I mean come on, his first punishment must've been just a slap on the wrist to him. Now if he keeps doing it because he knows he's going to get out again anyway then maybe that's when we should think about life without parole, after he's of age and not considered a teen anymore which shouldn't be much longer because he was about 17 years old. The only reason for life in prison should be murder. You take a life, you get to pay with your life. Other than that, in non-homicide crimes I think other harsh punishments should be considered in serious situations before attempting to give life without parole to anyone.

1/11/2010

Josevin M.
Nimitz, Irving, Tx
I don't believe juveniles should be sentenced to life in prison unless it is for murder. Juveniles are young and there minds are not fully developed to choose the right decisions. Kids make a lot of mistakes but they learn from it. But when it comes to ending someones life everybody knows not to do that being a juvenile or an adult you know its wrong to commit a murder that's the only reason I see why a juvenile should be sentenced to life. Any other reason they should be offered a second chance because everybody messes up at least once. I do believe age does matter because as you get older you become smarter and wiser and you should no right from wrong.

1/11/2010

Jackie
Nimitz, Irving/TX
Juveniles CAN commit henious crimes that are not murder, however; the punishment must fit the crime. In the case of Graham v. Florida Graham was implicated of armed robberies at the age of 16; it is definitely unconstitutional that he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. It seems like they are putting away a "bad kid" in order to keep society in peace. Childrens' minds are slower to develop than their bodies. They don't fully develop a sense of responsibility and ability to make decisions for themselves until they are well on their way into adulthood. This is why I don't think that a child should receive an adult's punishment for a crime in which no one was killed.

1/9/2010

Melvin
Nimitz HS, Irving, Texas
I honestly believe that sentencing a juvenile to life prison without parole for a crime in which no one dies in unconstitutional. Many young people have done horrible things at one point of their life but everyone can have second chances. Sentencing a juvenile to life prison without a crime committed violates the Eighth amendment because it protects us from “cruel and unusual punishment”. The only way a juvenile should get life in prison without a chance of getting out is by committing a crime such as taking a person's life. In this cases without a doubt the age of the person does matter. Juveniles tend to do things that later they reject. With the years come more responsibilities and for sure many juveniles can learn from their mistakes. I think that the court justices should listen Stephen to G. Breyer and not Samuel Alito because sentencing a juvenile to life prison without parole is a exaggerated thing to do.

1/7/2010

Savanna
Nimitz, Irving,TX
I believe the only reason for life in prison is if someone took a life. Yes I will admit I have done some immature things at the age of seventeen that have gotten me in trouble, most teenagers have, most just don't get caught. I do not think a juvenile should be sentenced to life in prison, most teenagers do not think about their actions and the consequences they can bring, and when nine times out of ten, we do learn from our mistakes after receiving a punishment. For those that do not learn they will probably mess up again in the future when they are old enough to have a stricter punishment, so sooner or later they will get the punishment they deserve. I believe prison is meant to punish a person, so they will hopefully learn from their bad choices. If anything they should at least give the kid parole.

1/6/2010

Sergey
NIMITZ HIGH SCHOOL, Irving
I believe the magnanimity of a life with no parole sentence is unfair to anyone who has not taken another persons life. The idea that you must spend the rest of your life in a cell with little time outside and no chance of living an American dream or starting a family; even things like watching a movie in a theater and eating outside on a quiet hill listening to nature call your name. This kind of sentence is like taking away the life from a human who has committed a crime, not a murder. I understand why a murderer would be punished for taking a life with this sentence, but if a crime that does not involve the loss of a loved one inherits this vehement punishment, it seems unconstitutional. I believe in capital punishment for murders, rapists, and serial killers, but for people who commit a crime (maybe even accidental) they should always get a second chance to live their lives the right way. Its the way America is viewed in other nations because they come to America to get a second chance, not to be cruelly punished for possession of drugs or tax fraud.

1/6/2010

Sarah
Montera midddle school, California
I beleive life in prison is just as bad as the death sentence- and even worse when it applies to a teenager. A teenager has their whole life ahead of them, just because they have done wrong in the past doesnt mean they cant correct themselves and become a better person in the future. Life without parole takes away everything a teenager can look forward too, and gives no incentive towards remorse. These teenagers in this article did not commit a murder, they commited a crime. A crime that is not worth life in prison without parole.

1/6/2010

Sarah
Montera midddle school, California
I beleive life in prison is just as bad as the death sentence- and even worse when it applies to a teenager. A teenager has their whole life ahead of them, just because they have done wrong in the past doesnt mean they cant correct themselves and become a better person in the future. Life without parole takes away everything a teenager can look forward too, and gives no incentive towards remorse. These teenagers in this article did not commit a murder, they commited a crime. A crime that is not worth life in prison without parole.

12/29/2009

Martha
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
I believe sentencing anyone to life in prison without parole is a very serious punishment. Sending someone to prison for life is taking away their liberty because they are unable to socialize and live their life. In some cases though, putting someone in jail for life is the best thing if that person has committed a serious crime, like killing somebody. Also, in some cases there have been murderers, people who have raped, others who have stolen, and yet some are just given some years in prison, parole, and even release on bail. In these 2 cases presented, nobody died, and even though people were victims, that doesn’t mean the teenagers should be sent away to jail and live there for the rest of their life. I’m not saying that what they did is right, of course their actions were wrong but they are teens, and during those years, teenagers go through hard times because they are growing up. Maybe those teens weren’t given the correct advice, causing them to act the way they did. I believe the age of the person does matter because for example, if a young person and an adult both did the same crime, the adult would have more common sense than the young. I think the 2 teens should go to a juvenile center, be put on probation, and instead of being put in prison for life, they should be given the opportunity to go get an education and help the community by doing community service or something. I believe prison does not rehabilitate, it just punishes and isolates a person from the community. In prison, there is no one that guides and serves as a counselor so I wouldn’t consider it to rehabilitate and help someone. Indeed, the 2 teenagers did something wrong, but they still have many years ahead of them and instead of being kept in jail they should be helped out to an extent where they have something productive to do with their lives that of course can help the society, not harm it anymore.

12/18/2009

Stephie L.
Greencastle Antrim High, Greencastle, PA
I believe that sentencing a juvenile to prison without parole could be argued in two different perspectives. The decision of sentencing the criminals focuses on the crime or crimes committed. However, facts have shown that juveniles have more impulse to doing things they wouldn’t normally do and has to be taken into consideration. For example, Joe Sullivan, a 13 year old in the article with charges of rape of an elder woman should not be sentenced to life without parole until all circumstances are looked at such as, the mobility of the elder woman, whether or not she could fight back, and where the incident took place, and why. In other words, if the crime had been committed in the woman’s home questions as to why Sullivan was there should be accounted for. As for crimes such as murder, life could be given. Not necessarily petty crimes but smaller felonies should not result in Life sentencing without parole. According to Justice Brewer, "The confusion and uncertainty about the moral responsibility of a 13-year-old is such that it is a cruel thing to do to remove from that individual his entire life." In addition to Brewer’s statement I believe that other forms of punishment should consist of Counseling or sent to a juvenile center where they can seek help and maybe change their ways.

12/18/2009

Haley M.
Greencastle-Antrim H.S., Greencastle, PA
I believe that sentenceing juveniles to life in prison without parole is very unconstitutional. I thought prison was supposed to change a person, but if a juvenile gets sentenced to life in prison how are they supposed to show the world they can change? In other words, juveniles can not be tried as adults, so it is very unfair to have them be punished as adults. In some cases it may be different, like in cases of murder or many murders then they really should not have a chance at life if they want to take another’s life away from them. Age although does play a factor. A fifty year old man compared to a 13 year old boy have different states of mind. A fifty year old man should have enough experience, enough self control, but a boy that is only 13 years old, not even in his teen years does not even begin to think about the consequences or what the bad choices he makes could lead to. Minors are easily influenced to do horrible things, but if no one was killed or hurt very bad then sentenced to life is not right. According to Bryan Stevenson from The Washington Post, to say to any child of 13 that you are only fit to die in prison is cruel. I think the court should think of all of the other possible choices before making one that could ruin a young ones life at a chance to live.

12/15/2009

Gina
Litchfield High School, Litchfield ct
Sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without parole can be looked at either way. Depending on what the juvenile has done then i believe its okay. When it comes to a juvenile raping, murdering ect. then yes i believe that is a good punishment. but if the juvenile has done something minor then i believe that is just rediculous. But it reality its all on how the judge see's the case.

12/15/2009

Jewel K.
Northeast High School, Philadelphia PA
I think that sending a juvenile to prison for life without the possibilitie of parole is unconstitutional.I if it's a misdemenor in which no one was hurt I think that they should only get time in a detention center. They shouldn't be doing hard time in a prison with harden criminals for something like that.But I also think that the only way a juvenile should get life in prison is if they kill someone. My reason for saying this is because at a young age we're taught what's right and wrong and killing someone is wrong. And if you don't do this to them for taking someone's life how can you do this to a grown woman or a grown man. It would be basically telling them that while your a kid you could get away with murder but you can't when your an adult. But back to the original topic if a juvenile commits an offense where no one was hurt then they shouldn't get life without parole. They should get a second chance at life.

12/14/2009

domonique
chicopee academy, massachusetts
no because how are they supose to get a chance to change if there life is takin away for something that they were probably talked into doing and its becauze there juveniles that they should at least get a chance to show that they realize and that they want to change for the better

12/11/2009

Sarah
Bethel Highschool, Spanaway, Wa.
I don't think saying a 13 year old doesn't know what he's doing is right. Because our parents teach us from infancy right from wrong. If a thirteen year old commits a murder, or even just an armed burglary, he shouldn't get off with just a slap on the wrist and a 'No, no.' if they commit a crime that an adult would do, they should get in trouble just the same. Saying "They should get a second chance at life" isn't all that fair, if you think about it. What about the person they killed, or have forever changed their life? They don't get a second chance, and they haven't done anything wrong. So, if a teenager commits a really bad crime, they should get in trouble just as anyone else, regardless. How is it unconstitutional? Killing someone is unconstitutional, but they should only get a stern warning and a slap on the wrist? Where is the fairness in that?

12/10/2009

Tamara
Litchfield High School, Litchfield, CT
Sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole is a multi-faceted discussion. There are many factors that go into the sentence; there is no textbook punishment for any given crime because it is, as it should be, at the discretion of a judge to determine the appropriate sentence for a given crime by a juvenile. Another note to consider is that juveniles are not granted the same rights as people who are legal adults, including a trial by jury. However, a judge will not deliver a cruel or unusual sentence, and so no punishment should be dismissed as a possibility as one never knows the nature of the crime. A judge will assign a sentence that is appropriate to the crime committed, and if life in prison without parole is appropriate, then so be it. There is nothing in the Constitution that states otherwise. Prison was not designed for rehabilitation; those deemed socio or psycho-pathic will most likely be instructed in the direction of a mental institution. Prison for life without parole is the lofty punishment meant to be the consequence of a heinous act committed by a criminal. There doesn't need to be a homicide in order for a heinous crime to be committed.

12/10/2009

Billy
Litchfield High School, Litchfield, CT
Convicting juveniles to life in jail is a subject that can be look at in both directions. In my eyes, a juvenile that can commit a crime such as murder, rape, armed robbery, etc should be convicted by the judge appropriately. Any person who can kill or murder someone needs to be punished in one way or another, no matter your age, race, ethnicity, if you can commit a crime that serious, a conviction is in order. As Tamara said, the judge will charge the criminal as ordered, it is out of his hands what the situation is, the judge did not commit the crime, he is just doing his job. It’s sad to say that, but it is how the law works, we cannot have teenagers running around the street killing and robbing people, especially if they are not punished for it. Do you think that it will help them if they are not convicted? No, they will continue to do so, and that is where the hard part comes in. Sending a teenager to jail is a serious thing, but killing and raping someone is even more serious. Something has to be done in these cases, and if it is life in jail, then so be it.

12/10/2009

Annie
Litchfield High School, Litchfield,CT
I believe that sentencing juveniles to life in prision without parole is un constitutional. Juveniles can not be tried as adults so it is very unfair to have them be punished as adults. In some cases i believe that they should be sentenced to life in prision if their crime was extremely outragous such as a murder or multiple murders. So this topic is a very hard one to figure out but if children are tried as adults they should not be punished as them. Especially to life in prision with no parole.

12/10/2009

Annie
Litchfield High School, Litchfield,CT
I believe that sentencing juveniles to life in prision without parole is un constitutional. Juveniles can not be tried as adults so it is very unfair to have them be punished as adults. In some cases i believe that they should be sentenced to life in prision if their crime was extremely outragous such as a murder or multiple murders. So this topic is a very hard one to figure out but if children are tried as adults they should not be punished as them. Especially to life in prision with no parole.

12/10/2009

Katie
Litchfield High School , Litchfield, CT
No, I believe that a juvenile should not be sentenced to life in prison without parole because they are young and not completely matured yet. Most people have probably done something stupid when they were younger and I believe that even if they do something stupid they should be able to get a second chance. Yes, they should be punished for committing a serious crime but I believe that being sentenced to life in prison without parole is unfair. This is also a matter of the 8th amendment being violated. If a juvenile commits a serious crime that is not a homicide and is sentenced to life in prison, I believe that is a cruel and unusual punishment. A juvenile is a young person and they should be able to get a second chance to turn their life around. Yes, I believe the age of a person matters, because if a 13 year old boy commits an armed robbery and a 40 year old man commits the same crime, they should not be punished the same. The young boy does not know better but the older man however does know he should not have done that. I still think the 13 year old should get a harsh punishment but I think life in prison without parole is to cruel. I believe that prison is meant to rehabilitate and isolate the person who has committed a crime from society. It is good to keep them away from society so they can not harm anyone else and it is important that while they are in prison they are able to think about what they did and realize it was wrong and become rehabilitated. Overall, I believe that the Supreme Court should rule against life in prison without parole for a juvenile because it is cruel and unusual punishment and they deserve another chance at life.

12/10/2009

Chris
Litchfield High school, Litchfield CT
Crimes are crimes and always need to be treated as such. and if a juvenile commites a crime punishable by life in prision without parole it is clearly a crime heinous enough do recieve this punishment. a juvenile that commits a crime like this clearly knows what they were doing and if they have some sort of mental condition it will be addressed. a judge knows what crimes deserve what punishment and under what conditions and they will always provide the correct justice. it is there job and there boss is the constitution so these punishments would not be even considered if they were unconstitutional.

12/10/2009

Brisli H.
Nimitz High School, Irving, Tx
I think that theirs always an exception to a rule if the juvenile shows a consistency at that age he should be in prison till a change has been seen over a period of time. But first a period of time must be set that the juvenile must remain in prison before observation can take place. While older man could be sentenced to life in prison with out a chance to get out I think the a juvenile should never be sentenced to something like that because of conditions they might have grown up in and never had a chance to escape but one an adult there should be plenty of opportunities to try and escape a life style you don't feel comfortable with.

12/9/2009

Adam
Litchfield High School, Litchfield CT
I believe that sentancing a juvenile to life in prison without parol is completely unconstitutional, especially in a non-homicidal case. My reasoning is because a minor cannot be tried as an adult therefore there is no jury. This means that the future of this child lies in the hands of a single judge. If minors can't be tried as adults they should not be punished the same as adults. It violates the terms of the 8th amendment, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment, especially if there was no murder involved. There are adults who commit similar crimes and recieve less punishment or atleast parole. If the child is going to reiceve adult punishments, he or she should be tried as an adult with a jury.

12/9/2009

Adam
Litchfield High School, Litchfield CT
I believe that sentancing a juvenile to life in prison without parol is completely unconstitutional, especially in a non-homicidal case. My reasoning is because a minor cannot be tried as an adult therefore there is no jury. This means that the future of this child lies in the hands of a single judge. If minors can't be tried as adults they should not be punished the same as adults. It violates the terms of the 8th amendment, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment, especially if there was no murder involved. There are adults who commit similar crimes and recieve less punishment or atleast parole. If the child is going to reiceve adult punishments, he or she should be tried as an adult with a jury.

12/9/2009

Adam
Litchfield High School, Litchfield CT
I believe that sentancing a juvenile to life in prison without parol is completely unconstitutional, especially in a non-homicidal case. My reasoning is because a minor cannot be tried as an adult therefore there is no jury. This means that the future of this child lies in the hands of a single judge. If minors can't be tried as adults they should not be punished the same as adults. It violates the terms of the 8th amendment, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment, especially if there was no murder involved. There are adults who commit similar crimes and recieve less punishment or atleast parole. If the child is going to reiceve adult punishments, he or she should be tried as an adult with a jury.

12/8/2009

Munira D
Nimitz HS, Irving TX
I think that it depends on the intensity of the crime,and also the psychological analysis of the juvenile. If a fourteen year old murdered his parents and was proclaimed to have a sociopathic nature, I believe that he would not be able to function in society, and therefore was better off in prison for life. If the case was different, and that teen/child was capable of remorse later in life, I think that parole should be then allowed.

12/8/2009

Cristi W.
Nimitz HS, Irving, Texas
It is extremely hard to form an opinion on this, because there are numerous situations that could have taken place. For example, a teenager could have gone around stabbing everyone and robbing a few banks. The people would be injured, but not dead. The teenager also could have been in trouble for three tons of cocaine, or a hundred rapes. It always depends on the situation. But I am going to say that this teen got in trouble for drugs. Why would someone have to waste their life in prison because of a mistake made when they were younger? It doesn't seem fair to me. I know people who have gotten parole for horrible, horrible crimes. If they are able to drunk drive and kill someone with parole, why is this teen locked up forever? I believe that this is the equivalent to taking a life. Prison life is no fun. There is violence, fear, and frustration involved on a daily basis. I do agree that this is the epitome of cruel and unusual punishment, but that's only because of my hypothetical scenario.

12/8/2009

Kaylee
Litchfield High School, Litchfield
No I feel that a juvenile should be sentenced for life in prison because they harmed someone out in the world and who wants to see that person back out on the streets and who knows if he or she is going to committee another crime. Not even that he or she could committee something even worse then what they did before. Even though the kid is young he should know better not to do something like that. No age should not matter because if they do a bad enough crime they should be in jail for life and not be able to be let back out into the world. I believe that prison is meant to rehabilitate because when you go to jail you should be able to learn from what you did and make yourself a better person if you stay in there for life or if you get back out in the real world. I feel rehabilitate is the best thing for someone to learn the hard way and to make sure that they have learned something good from it and it would not happen again. I think that the court should get him a punishment for his actions because he committed a crime and should have known better than to do something like that. He needs to learn his lesson until he gets back out into the real world if he does or doesn’t. That’s my opinion on the case that I picked of juveniles should be sentenced for life in prison.

12/8/2009

Kyle W
Litchfield , Litchfield CT
Sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole is completely unconstitutional because it is not only cruel, but a juvenile does not even get a trial by jury. If the juvenile is going to recieve a punishment this severe, then he/she should atleast have a chance to get parole. The decision to sentence a child to the rest of their life prior to knowing what is right or wrong is terrible.

12/7/2009

Francesca L. PD7
Northeast High school, philadelphia, PA
Putting kids in jail without the possibility of parole depends on the crime. I understand that kids make mistakes but killing is not the only cruel crime their is. If a child was to molest another child I would say put them in jail and throw away the key. That child did something unmentionable to another child and they should of known right from wrong. The child who is being thrown in jail is learning a life lesson that they will never forget. I know that their victim will never forget what they did to them. Personally, a act like that does not violate the 8th amendment because its not fair that the person who did something awful is going to be allowed to walk away free. Lastly,I strongly believe if the child being put in jail did it once they are capable of doing it again.

12/6/2009

Mariah's Voice.
Northeast Magnet, Philadelphia PA
I believe putting teens away for life and no chance of parole is a waste of time, especially if they did not get charged with a homicide offense. Many people use the phrase, "young and naive," because it actually states some facts. Growing up as a teen is not easy. Your mistakes become your lessons. How is a teen to learn from his or her mistake if he or she has no chance to? Keeping a teenager locked up for life isnt going to solve the problem the teen first started with. Giving that teen another chance only seems right because it gives the teen a chance to redeme themselves. So, in my opinion, I believe that keeping a teen for life is a ridiculous decision and only costing the state more money to support the teen.

12/3/2009

PATRICK R. PD5 FRANK
Northeast highschool, philadelphia PA
I do not think teens should be sentenced to life with out parole.Kids makes mistakes a such a young age you should not punish them for life. Once you go to jail your life is basiclly messed up any way. so why not let hem get out and have some type of chance.Even if some one dies they should still get parole. there are so many x cons who have commited crimes and who are out on the streets. america is supposed to be the land of oppertunity so why not give these teens a second chance.

12/2/2009

Lilian A.
Nimitz High School , Irving, Texas
Whenever a person commits a crime, a lot of evaluation should be taken place. Such as looking at that person’s criminal background, the age, statistics etc .In my opinion sentencing a person life in prison without parole is just plain harsh .In this case no one was killed, I do believe consequences should be enforced. The age does indeed play a factor. A man in his 30’s compared to a boy that is 13 years old have different state of mind. The 30 yr old man should have much more experience and self-control. A boy that is barely in his teen doesn’t even begin to think of consequences and the effects that their choices make. I do think the prisons should be rehabilitated. The court should definitely evaluate carefully all the possibly choices.

12/2/2009

Stefanie R.
Northeast High School, Philadelphia, PA
Sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without parole is completely unconstitutional. It is a cruel punishment and the 8th amendment protects us from this. The age of the person committing the crime does matter because people that are under 18 are their guardian's responsibility. Juveniles cannot yet be held completely responsible for their actions because they are not adults yet. I do believe that if a minor commits a crime, he or she should be punished. But they should be given a lesser punishment since they may not be mature enough to make their own decisions. Minors are more easily influenced and are less likely to understand their consequences. I believe that young people should be given a chance to turn their life around since they have so much time ahead of them.

11/30/2009

Vanessa H.
Nimitz High School, Irving/TX
I think juveniles should be sentenced to life in prison without parole for a crime in which no one died. For example in the case of Joe Sullivan he was just 13 years old but he committed a crime that is wrong. It doesn't matter if he was 13 years old because it would have been wrong anyways if a man that is 35 years old committed the crime. After all age is nothing but a number, and I am certain that Joe Sullivan knew that he was doing an act that is completely wrong. He might have a psychological condition or something, but it would be best that he is sentenced to life in prison or went to a mental institution so he can get separated from society, so he won't cause any harm on more innocent people. In the case of Graham I think Terrance knew what kind of trouble he was getting involved in. He had the chance to make his decisions, but he choose the wrong ones and needs to suffer the consequences. After all if he doesn't get sentenced to life in prison, he can do worse things in the future and harm others. So I think it's better to prevent something from happening now, than be crying about it later on how you could have done something to stop that. To me prison is a place that is meant to isolate people from society because they have committed a crime. It is a place where all the criminals are at, and are separated by guards, fences, and guns so they won't reach the world they lost by doing the actions that made them go into prison in the first place. It is stated sometimes that prison is supposed to rehabilitate criminals and make them change. But the truth is once a criminal always a criminal,and they are frowned upon society. If a criminal gets out of prison, and gets to live their life, they won't have much of it left, because they're history will always follow them whether it is trying to apply for a job or even living in a nice neighborhood.

11/29/2009

Erick
Nimitz, Irving, TX
Depending on the level of the crime, I believe that sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without parole is, and has always been, a legitimate punishment. The multitude of crimes committed also play a factor in this decisive resolution; a continuous threat to the society must be dealt with, permanently. Age should not be taken into consideration when determining the penalization of the criminal; it, as well as his or her background, is irrelevant to their infraction and wrongdoing. I believe that prison is meant to rehabilitate these delinquents, although that is not what truly occurs. In reality, these people are set apart from the rest of society. The court should continue to allow for this punishment, as long as the crime requires this solution.

11/27/2009

Nikki M.
Nimitz High School, Irving, Texas
In some cases, I believe, that the crime committed is extremely wrong and they deserve life in prison but at the same time they should have a chance of parole. Most people don't believe that people can change but everybody should have a second chance to straighten up and live a life that they want, if they screw up again then that when they need to be in prison for life. Age definitely matters alot. Especially if the juvenile is in their teenage years, they still have their whole life ahead of them and to take it away from them in a blink of an eye is pretty harsh. Prison should be a place where the prisoners realize that they did wrong and they need to "man" up and not do bad things, not a place where they are treated harshly. If they are treated badly it doesn't help much because they leave there with grudges and plans to get back to the people that treated them bad.

11/26/2009

Cory
Nimitz High, Irving, TX
Almost everything except murder should not result in incarceration for life. If a juvenile commits a crime, or does something worth sending them to jail, they should not be sentenced to life, but instead, punished by how bad the action was. For example, drug abuse could send someone to jail, but not for life. They should be incarcerated for about three years, enough time to go through rehabilitation. I believe prison is meant to rehabilitate, punish, and isolate anyone, because after committing a crime, a prisoner can be isolated from society, punish for doing what he/she has done, and can rehabilitate from the experience. Depending on the crime, I believe the court to punish correctly.

11/25/2009

Valentina
Nimitz H S, Irving
I think that in some cases were the degree of the crime is totally wrong, even if no one dies, the juvenile should be sentenced to life in prison, but the chances of having parole, should depend in the age the criminal committed the crime. An example of a crime that I think that is totally wrong and no one dies is if a fiftteen year old rapes a three year old baby. In this case I would give the fifteen year old life sentence to prison, because a person that raps a little baby is sick, and the chances are that they are going to do it again. And also a 15 year old juvenile, has clear understanding of what is good and bad. In the case of Joe Sullivan, I would not give him life sentence in prison, because I think that a 13 year old, is not mature enough to understand the seriousness of a problem. I would punish Sullivan with 15 to 20 years of prison, but not life sentenced in prison. I do think that the age of a juvenile is very important to determine their punishment. I think that prisons are meant to rehabilitate, punish, and to isolate someone from the society. To a person with drug issues prison is a tool to rehabilitate, a person that has kidnapped prison is to punish, and to a person that raps a baby, prison to isolate them from the society.

11/25/2009

Nicolette R
Nimitz HS, Irving/TX
Often there are no crimes considered more terrible and more unforgivable than the murder of anything, human or animal. Therefore, hearing that juveniles, barely able to be tried as adults, are being sentenced to life in prison without parole is absolutely amazing and appalling to me. It is this especially because of the fact that some men are convicted guilty of murder and are released from their sentences 20-30 years later, WITH parole. If that can be possible for some, I don't understand why it's not possible for others. Therefore I do believe it leans more towards unconstitutional than constitutional.

11/25/2009

Rebecca
Nimitz, Irving, Texas
Uniforms are a sensitive subject, there are pros as wells as cons whichever way you look at it. I do agree that uniforms help students who may not have as much money for clothes as others feel more comfortable because they are not being compared to those who have name brand clothing. But I also wore uniforms at one time, making the change from wearing uniforms to not wearing them was not that big of a jump. Students were still judged and made fun of for the way they looked and dressed. Teenagers can be brutal they will say there feelings and it doesn't matter if you are wearing uniforms or not. I feel that uniforms do not help the learning environment, there are so many other ways to focus change in schools than uniforms. Get decent teachers, more books, and cleaner facilities if you want a better learning environment. As for uniforms being used to identify students, that sounds like a lame excuse to me. Most intruders are adults and unless teachers are required to wear uniforms, how would that help?! Most schools, if not all, require ID badges to identify students, that is a good and reasonable idea but not uniforms. Uniforms are expensive so I feel that if school districts demand students wear uniforms that should be prepared with special funds to help less fortune students and their families out.

11/23/2009

Elizabeth Q
Nimitz High School, Irving, Texas
Life in prison without parole may seem like a stiff sentence on the surface, but I believe that, in some instances, juveniles can be sentenced to life in prison without having committed murder. Some teenagers really are beyond help by the time they are caught committing a horrendous crime and it isn't fair to the victims to allow them an easier sentence just because they are a juvenile. You learn at a young age the difference between right and wrong and, whether you are 17 or 40, if you commit a crime such as brutal rapes or assaults, you should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. While in some instances prison can be a place to rehabilitate a criminal, I think prison is a way of keeping criminals with little hope of rehabilitating away from society. If a criminal shows great remorse for what they have done, have tried to apologize for what they have done, and show a desire to change, I believe that they should have a chance to get out of prison. However, there are some criminals that think they had a right to do whatever they did or that they were justified in harming and terrorizing a person. I do not believe that criminals like that, should be allowed back into society just because it is quite possible that they will act out again. In the cases of these two teenagers, I think the judge should look at the possibility of rehabilitation for these boys before sending them to prison for the rest of their lives. The cases should be reviewed and re-evaluated for solid reasons to send them to prison without parole.

11/23/2009

sandra b
northeast, philadelphia
i believe that sentencing a juvenile to life without parole is unconstitutional depending upon the crime and how many times this person has been in trouble, for example if they were a mass murder and show no remorse then yes they deserve to spend the rest of their life in jail without the posibility of parole, on the other hand my teacher made the point that the goal of the juvenile court system is to repair and build up the youth therefore to lock a juvenile away the first chance you get is unfair and unconstitutional

11/22/2009

Alwin J
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
Not all juveniles who commit a serious crime are aware of the seriousness of their deeds and the consequences that they will face. Though some may consider that a serious offense always deserves a serious punishment, not all juveniles are aware of the value of law in society. A juvenile should not be sentenced to life in prison for a crime in which no one dies . Juveniles may be forced to do community service activities , join youth reform programs, etc. Being sentenced for life is not the only way to punish someone. Age plays a big role in human life and has a big impact on the deeds that we do. Some juveniles do not appreciate the value of life until they reach adulthood. So, age matters.

11/22/2009

LeAna G.
Nimitz High School, Irving/TX
I don't think it is right that a person is put in prison for life when they didn't commit murder or kill a person. In my opinion its only right that you're sentence for life if you did kill someone. No matter the situation they shouldn't of made the final verdict the way they did. And yes I truly believe they are violating the Eighth Amendment. They are taking the life away from a person who yes committed a crime which is why they're serving time but they shouldn't have to serve forever. No. I don't think the age really matters because its the law and they ought to know whats ethical and whats not.

11/21/2009

Alwin J
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
Not all juveniles who commit a serious crime are aware of the seriousness of their deeds and the consequences that they will face. Though some may consider that a serious offense always deserves a serious punishment, not all juveniles are aware of the value of law in society. A juvenile should not be sentenced to life in prison for a crime in which no one dies . Juveniles may be forced to do community service activities , join youth reform programs, etc. Being sentenced for life is not the only way to punish someone. Age plays a big role in human life and has a big impact on the deeds that we do. Some juveniles do not appreciate the value of life until they reach adulthood. So, age matters.

11/19/2009

Shayla
Nimitz, Irving, TX
If noone dies, a juvenile should not be sentenced to life in prison without parole. The age of the person does play a big role. When juveniles commit crimes it usually meens they are lost in life, and don't know how to keep from wrong. I think that a crimeful juvenile should spend time in prison so they can grow up and be scared for life, but not life. A juvenile should be given a second chance, but after that if the crime is commited again, obviously they will never learn, and they should probably be sentenced for life.

11/18/2009

Joel P.
Nimitz High School, Irving, Tx
The life sentence for anyone, regardless of age, is a severe punishment. Children do not fully develop mentally until their twenties; therefore they cannot even be considered an adult. Though, those who cannot be reformed and continue to be a social disruption should not have a place in society, that does not mean we should give up on our youth. Personally, I believe the government should reinforce youth rehabilitation centers, because crime should be treated like an addiction. If the child was not convicted of murder or attempted murder, I see no justification for a life sentence I think it makes more sense for the child and the American taxpayer to attempt to reform a child and make them a law abiding, productive citizen. It would cost more to keep them in jail for life. To not even give these kids a chance is just plain stupid. Many kids are victims of circumstance and if given the tools to succeed they would.

11/18/2009

Keenan A.
Northeast H.S, Philadelphia,PA
I believe that this is not constitutional. I believe this because no one under eighteen years of age should go to jail for certain crimes. Especially if no one was killed. To make it worse, adults are able to get parole even after killing someone. This is indeed cruel and unusual punishment. I hope that the supreme court sees the right in these situations. Its not right for CHILDREN to go to jail with real murderes whom can really put someone in grave danger. Its up to the supreme court to give these kids back their lives.

11/18/2009

Valarie G
Nimitz High School, Irving, Texas
I think that if they did not kill anyone, they should not be sentenced to life without parole. I think that the courts should rule that they do get a serious punishment, but not life. I do think that the age matters, but only if the person is very young, such as 12, 13, and 14. Anything over that, without mental or physiological problems, they should be tried as though they were an adult. I think this because if they are old enough to know right from wrong and make the decision themselves to commit whatever felony is taking place, then they should get what they deserve. Not let off easily for because of their age.

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