Speak Outs
Speak Out
How should states deal with a Supreme Court ruling on mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles?


Sept. 4, 2012

By Jeremy Quattlebaum, Student Voices staff writer

On August 31, an important deadline passed for some 500 Pennsylvanians. The last day of the month was the cutoff for inmates who as juveniles were automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole to challenge their sentences.

The state allowed these inmates to challenge their sentences after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that automatic life sentences without a chance for parole for juveniles convicted of murder was unconstitutional, a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which protects individuals from “cruel and unusual” punishment.

The court in June did not strike down life sentences without parole for juveniles, but instead stated that making the life sentence mandatory was unconstitutional. Juveniles can still be sentenced to life without parole, but now they will have to be sentenced by a judge or jury.

The ruling follows a 2005 case, Roper v. Simmons, in which the court ruled that juveniles could not be sentenced to death for crimes they committed when they were under the age of 18, and Graham v. Florida in 2010, when the court determined that life sentences without parole for juveniles convicted of non-homicide crimes was unconstitutional.

In Pennsylvania, where juveniles convicted of murder automatically were sentenced to life without parole, the state decided to allow these inmates to appeal their sentences from the time the court made its ruling on June 25 until August 31. Of the 2,500 juvenile lifers in the nation, the state has nearly 500.

“The reason why we have such a high number is because we have only one sentence available in Pennsylvania currently for juveniles convicted of first or second degree murder,” Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia said. “And that’s a mandatory sentence of life without parole.”

In other states, such as Missouri and Wisconsin, the state courts ruled that life in prison without parole was still constitutional, but these ruling occurred in specific cases and were not broad rulings.

Because the mandatory sentence has been ruled unconstitutional, states will need to revise their sentencing guidelines, Levick said, and legislatures will play a role.

What do you think?

How should states deal with the Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama? Should states look at the cases individually or should they make a blanket ruling? Is a life term without parole “cruel and unusual” punishment for a juvenile convicted of murder? How would you change the sentencing guidelines for juveniles? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!

Join the Discussion
 
 
 
limited to 2000 characters including spaces  



Thank you for commenting.
Your comment is awaiting approval.
Click here to view all Speak Outs
Comments
12/8/2012
Montgomery/Tx
Rylan
Metzger/MHS
I believe that the states need to review each case individually and in as much detail as possible. If this was to be done then it might allow for a more accurate picture into the juveniles mindset and the circumstances surrounding the murder, whether it be in self defense, a problem mentally, or just because they wanted to kill someone for the heck of it, which would allow for a more accurate sentencing on how many years is to be spent in jail and whether parole is available or not. In Pennsylvania's case I do agree that the broad use of the automatic life sentencing with no parole is against the 8 amendment as it is "cruel and unusual punishment". However, that is only the case if it is applied in every single case, instead of just certain specific cases. It is for this reason the states should revise their sentencing guidelines to allow for more options of years spent in jail and whether parole is available or not to juveniles that are convicted of murder. These changes might allow for the chance of juveniles to repent and reform from the choices and actions they made before they fully developed into an adult, and thus give them some hope of reintegrating into society again.

10/30/2012
Sidney/MT
Taimea
Mr.Faulhaber/Sidney High School
I think that states should start looking at all the facts in a case. There are some cases where the kid was defending himself or is mentally unstable and is it fair to punish them for it? They should all be checked out and see if they are of sound mind. If they aren't then we should put them in a place where they can get help. What if the kid was you?

10/30/2012
Sidney, Montana
Abbe
Mr. Faulhaber/SHS
The court sould not be able to sentance a juvinial to like without parol. 90% of teen offenders will not become repeat offenders. The decision of parol should be decided among the parol board and not the jurry.

10/24/2012
Massachusetts
Alyssa
Rimas
I believe that a life term without parole is very harsh because people do change. Someone who committed a violent act when they were under 18 may be completely different by the time they are 30 or 40. These people will never get the chance to prove they changed if they are still in jail.

10/24/2012
Watertown, MA
Nicole
Mr. Rimas/ Watertown High
If the people being convicted of crimes are ultimately destined for a life in prison sentence, then it seems unnecessary for them to be tried as adults. If they were cruel enough to commit such an intense crime then they should serve the consequences and be automatically sent to prison life any other adult. I believe that if a teenage has committed a crime as is tried as a juvenile then they should be given the chance to eventually given a second chance if the crime committed is not murder. If the crime is murder (also depending on the circumstance) then they should be sentenced between a least a minimum of a long-sentence, but also to the maximum of a life-sentence and even in some cases to the death penalty.

10/24/2012
Watertown Massachusetts
Gregory
Remis, Watertown High School
They should obey the ruling, but challenge it to the extent that in extreme cases life without parole is a viable option for minors. The ruling is necessary in that every minor convicted of murder should not be sentenced to life without parole, however applying it to all cases is going too far. In the most extreme cases life without parole would not be "cruel and unusual" punishment.

10/24/2012
watertown MA
jessica
Rimas
Juveniles should not be given life sentences their brains aren't fully developed yet and children do stupid things some more extreme then others. If a person commits a serious crime at a young age they shouldn't suffer in jail with actual criminals they need help. They should be sent to an institution to get help and if deemed mentally stable should be released on parole.

10/24/2012
Massachusettss
Logan
Mr. Rimas
I think that Miller v. Alabama should be used as precedent for this situation. The supreme court did in fact rule that life without parole was "cruel and unusual" for juveniles convicted for murder and I think this should a case further trials can look towards. In my opinion I believe this should be on a case by case basis. It should be up to the judge to decide the severity of the crime. Obviously all murders are vile acts but I believe that intent, mental capabilities/stability, self-defense, and many other factors come into play when making a ruling. The sentencing guidelines should leave life without parole as an option but not mandatory, it should be on a case by case basis.

10/24/2012
Delaware
Kaysa
Mr. Lammers
I believe that it is wrong to sentence a juvenile life in prison without parole. People change; no one can look back at 40 and say they are the same person as they were when they were a teenager. Adolescence is one of the most turbulent times in a persons life, supercharged with hormones and confusion while the teen is trying to discover who they really are. A teenager may commit a severe crime while they are young, but this doesn't mean that they are thoroughly evil. I think that juveniles should at least have the chance to redeem themselves and at least reduce their time in jail from a life sentence.

10/5/2012
Irving/Tx
Monica
Bradley / Nimitz
It's just wrong to give the juveniles a life sentences without giving them a fair trial. That is cruel and unusual punishment. They should have right to fight for their freedom or at least earn less time in jail. They shouldn't let one mistake define them for the rest of their lives.

10/5/2012
Irving Texas
Frankie R
Bradley Nimitz
Have a court hearing of the case. Sentencing them automatically is unconstitutional. I think they should look at every individual case. Yes, not every murder case is a form of violence. There could be a case where you kill someone in self defense. I would make a hearing to analyze every case. Yes that will take more work to do, but it is also the right thing to do.

9/17/2012
Bushnell/ FL,
La'Bria
Mrs. Maura/South Sumter High School
I think it's wrong just to automatically give a juvienile a life sentence without parole just for murder. They have to have some type of punish but;There are adults that committ the same crime and only get a few years. I know juveniles shouldn't be doing any crimes but things happen. They may not know why they killed a certain someone. They might was pressured to defend themselves, bullying, or etc. They should atleast have a chance to plea in the court. We're just kids. Everyone makes mistakes.

9/14/2012
Irving/ TX
Jonathan
Austin/ JESA
I believe that states let juveniles to have a chance to plea in the courts before going to prison. Even though they are criminals, they still have certain rights in which can't be taken. It would take more time, but it will be better for states to view individual cases. It would be horrible for a relatively innocent person to be charged because someone else did something horrible. A life term without parole is considered as a "cruel & unusual" punishment because it takes away the person's rights to have a saying about the case. It would be better for the courts to determine the sentence depending on the degree of criminal activity that was done. If I were a justice, I would have to review on the individual person & their criminal activity. For example, if someone were to murder one person, I would have them be sentenced for at least 7 years. If the juvenile were to murder an entire party of people or an important political figure, the sentence will be extended for a longer period of time, ranging from 20 years to a life term. However, a trial should also be done so the juveniles will have something to say about the case, giving their point of view.

9/14/2012
Irving,TX
Andrea
Austin/JESA
I think it really depends on the state and crime rates and things like that. I can see why a state would want to look at cases individually and I can see why they would make a blanket ruling. I think murder is murder so anyone who can take someones life should be ready to give up their life and face the consequences. I would not change sentencing guidelines for juveniles.

9/13/2012
Irving/Texas
Ricky
Austin/JESA
I think that even though people might commit horrible things in life they should still be able to have parole to see if they can prove that they are not guilty, and every state should look at every case individually to get a better judgement then with a group to see exactly what the punishment should be. Life term without parole is a"cruel and unusual punishment," because even though they might have done something wrong they still have the right. I think we could be able to change the sentencing guidelines by not only looking on what that person did but also all the things he has done prior to the accident, because his actions might not necessarily be all his fault if their where problems or situations where he just had to do it.

9/11/2012
irving, Texas
Ashley P
Bradley/Nimits
All states in the U.S should follow the footsteps of Pennsylvania, so Pennsylvania can help lead Americas into a better place for juveniles everywhere. Locking up teenagers without any chance of parole should be considered cruel and unusual punishment, not only to the citizens in Pennsylvania, but to all citizens across our nation. There is a reason that juveniles are not considered legal adults yet, whether that reason be lack of responsibility or lack of moral sense, but what I do know is that everyone makes mistakes and although, not entirely everyone deserves a second chance, a second chance should be based on the case's circumstances and not on a case being overgeneralized. A blanket ruling should never occur being no two cases are the same. You can't possibly compare a dangerous serial killer to an individual that committed a self-defense murder? Both have different circumstances and both should be handled two different ways. I would personally change it to where each individual case was reviewed and that a verdict be delivered after thoroughly investigating the case, and to have different punishments in direct correlation to the crime that was committed.

9/11/2012
Irving Texas
Jasmin T.
Nimitz Ms. Bradley
In my opinion the states should rule the juveniles just as they would any other prisoner. I guess you could say that taking a look at each case separately only because someone could have killed someone out of self defense. After looking at their case and seeing that they committed murder for any reason then that, they yes. The court should rule life with out parole for someone who has committed murder. Even if it its a juvenile, they committed a crime that everyone besides minors go to jail for, and have no parole. It would be a mistake to treat the juveniles as if they didn't do wrong. If it was any other person besides a juvenile the consequences would be much more strict. I think that juveniles and any other prisoners should all have the same sentences. If they decide to change things, maybe minors could think they would be able to get away with more, but them knowing that they would have the same sentence as a regular prisoner- they would be more cautious.

9/10/2012
irving,texas
Sona
Bradley/Nimitz
States should consider looking at each cases individually before they make a decision on wheather to give them life sentences or not. According to the 18th amendment it is considered "cruel and unsual punishments" because since they are considered a juvenile, the court should understand that everybody makes mistakes and some might actually learn from it if they get another chance in life. I am not saying that juveniles should be free from punishments. They should have some sort of punishments so that they pay for what they did.Because if theres no punishments, its just give them a reason to commit the same crime again. But i think courts should decide based on the case and the circumstances for the crime.

9/10/2012
Irving TX
Martha
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that states should study the cases separately, although the accused were young members of society and might had many factors affect the way the acted, it is still their responsibility to face what the consequences that their actions have brought them. I believe that every crime was different and so were their reasons and motives, that's why it should be looked at individually before deciding if that person should spend the rest of their lies in jail. However the fact that in some cases the decision was taken without parole, opens the discussion to what degree of “cruelty” the rule was taken. I believe that yes, for a young person a life sentence will most likely seem unfair and even cruel, but I also take a look at the fact that they're not getting this punishment due to a robbery, but a murder. Someone's life was taken. I believe that if the situation on which this tragedy was the outcome calls for this punishment, so be it, but always with a fair trail.

9/10/2012
Irving/ Tx
Jennifer R
Bradley/ Nimitz
States should look at the cases of juveniles who have comitted murder individually. A life term without parole is "cruel and unusual" punishment for a juvenile. Everyone under 18 is considered juvenile, and there is a division between childhood and adulthood for a reason. Juveniles shouldn't be excused from a crime, but adults who commit a crime have more understanding of what is right and wrong. Courts should sentence a juvenile based on the crime and then offer a parole.

9/10/2012
Irving/Tx.
Katie D
Bradley/Nimitz
States should realize that this is something that should be changed in some ways. States should look at cases individually, but also have stages of blanket rulings to go with that. I think that a life term without parole should be considered as "cruel and unusual," however a term with parole isn't. I would say that if a juvenile has committed a murder then we, as a society, should be conscience about what they could be responsible for when they are older. So, they should makes stages for if a juvenile will have life sentence with or without parole.

9/10/2012
Irving/Tx
AshLey
Bradley/Ashley
I believe that making a mandatory life sentence for juveniles would be considered cruel and unusual punishment as listed under the Eighth Amendment. In my own opinion, the courts should look at each case separately and then determine off of the facts given.

9/10/2012
Irving/Texas
Pablo
Bradley/Nimitz
A crime committed under the age of eighteen is still a crime. However, holding a fifteen year old to the same level of responsibility as a twenty eight year old makes little if no sense. There's a reason as to why we have juvenile courts, and while some crimes may seem horrendous enough to call for a life sentence, the kid who committed it, is still a kid. Calling for an entire lifetime behind bars is no joke, and if the crime is severe enough to where people are calling for such a punishment, then the case should be taken and reviewed separately, but for the most part, life sentences for minors should not be employed. Remember, they're just kids.

9/10/2012
Vacaville/California
Brooke
Mr. Hawkins/buckingham
I think states should look at cases individually and not make a blanket ruling. Each circumstance is differently and should be treated that way. Life term without parole is not cruel for someone who committed murder. I would change the sentencing guidelines for juveniles by making each case its own and life without parole would be an option.

9/10/2012
benson, az
alissa
sorenson benson high school
i think they should get a death sentence because they knew the consequences of the crime and they shouldnt of done it. also they should be treated equally to all the other criminals who have done the same crime because no matter what its all the same thing.

9/9/2012
Irving/TX
Rose
Nimitz Bradley
States should take into consideration the Supreme Court ruling of the Miller v. Alabama case. Automatically scenting someone to life with out parole for murder is wrong. That's why every state should treat every case individually. Every case is different therefor, they should have a different ruling. I would change the guidelines to where every case should be examined individually, then a ruling should be mad. I believe that the life term is not cruel or unusual punishment if found guilty of murder. But taking in to account that they are juveniles life sentencing them is harsh. So I belive they should be sentence with the possibility of parole.

9/9/2012
Irving Texas
Carolina RJ
Bradley Nimitz
First, states should have a different sentence for first degree and second degree murders. I agree that life sentences should be sentences by a judge or jury. Though without a parole seems harsh to a juvenile, in other words: yes, life term without parole is cruel and unsual punishment for a juvenile in general. Of course, if the murderer is a psycho killer then maybe he does deserve life term without parole.

9/9/2012
Irving, TX
Bethany
Bradley/Nimitz
Concerning the ruling in Miller v. Alabama, states should look at the cases of juveniles who have committed murder individually, and should not make a blanket ruling. Every crime and criminal is unique, which does not in any way allow a court or a state to look at every crime the same just because the criminal is a juvenile. A life term without parole is “cruel and unusual” punishment for a juvenile. The reason that everyone under the age of eighteen is considered juvenile and everyone else over the age of eighteen is considered adult is because something separates them. It may be a lack of good judgment or a lack of maturity or a lack of experience, but we place a divide between childhood and adulthood for a reason. Therefore, because we separate juveniles from adults, we should separate the penalty of a crime among juveniles and adults. A child's youth does not excuse him from the consequence of his crime, but a child should not be punished as harshly as an adult because an adult knows exactly what is right and wrong, but a child may not. I would have the courts sentence a juvenile based on the severity of his crime, and offer parole to him a third or halfway through his sentence, and grant him parole if he follows certain guidelines prior to then.

9/9/2012
irving, texas
sara
Austin/JESA
First off, this is a very touchy subject. I think that some deserve life in prison for their crimes, but their age and circumstances at the time of the crime play a role also. There shouldn't be a "blanket ruling" because not one size fits all in this case.

9/8/2012
Irving, TX
Sandra
Bradley/Nimitz
The states should rule the juveniles as any other prisoner. The states should look at the cases individually because not all murders are the same. One could kill because of a health disorder and there are those who kill intentionally. The sentence is NOT cruel. Just because they are young doesn't mean they're capable of murder. I would just look at every case individually but still keep the sentences.

9/8/2012
Ir
Claudia
Bradley/Nimitz
Giving juveniles life sentences without parole may be unconstitutional, I believe it shouldn't; however, it should not be a blanket ruling rather have the state look at cases individually. If person committed a crime of such magnitude that it deserves that punishment than it should be give. We have to consider that if he or she committed such a severe crime at such a young age, he or she may only get become more a threat to other given the opportunity. A life sentence without parole can keep them from harming others in the future if it is needed which is why every case should be looked at individually.

9/8/2012
Irving/Texas
C. Lama
Bradley/Nimitz
States should look at the cases individually instead of making a blanket ruling. life term without parole is “cruel and unusual” punishment for a juvenile convicted of murder.

9/7/2012
Irving/TX
Mayra Z
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that life sentences for juveniles without parole is very unfair and cruel as well as an unusual punishment because i believe even if they do have knowledge of taking someone's life that they are still just juveniles. I think the supreme court should be a way to hear both sides or at least give a reason of why because it may have been to defend themselves. I believe the cases should be looked at individually because some convicted may actually be innocent and the cases should be looked carefully. Also, for the fact that they are juveniles they deserve a chance to show they can change or at least prove their innocence. I would change the guidelines by letting at least each individual to have the right to show or prove their innocence and not have a mandatory life sentence for something no one really knows if they did or not. If they did do it, there must be a clear explanation, at least a good reason why they should be sentenced to death.

9/7/2012
Irving/TX
Jessica H
Bradley/Nimitz
Each case should be treated separately because not every juvenile is of age to understand what murder really is. We are taught right from wrong at a young age, but we don't truly understand and judge what we do by those standards until we become teenagers and begin to mature. Once we become fully aware of what we are doing, no one can force us to do anything no matter how much we may want to make it seem that way. For that reason, if the juvenile is old enough to make their own decisions and "mature" enough to commit murder, then they should be old enough and mature enough to take responsibility for that action and face a life term. For those who aren't yet old enough to grasp the concept of murder, a life term without parole seems like cruel and unusual punishment; however, if the juvenile understands fully what they have done, then the punishment seems adequate.

9/7/2012
Irving/ TX
Jennifer T
Bradley/ Nimitz
I think if you are old enough to speak and to make your own decisions, then you are old enough to choose between right and wrong. They deserve what they are getting, and if the supreme court ruled that way then it is for a reason. If they commit a serious crime when they are young and if they don't have serious consequences, then they will do it again. This is simply a the effect of their actions. The state should abide to the Supreme Court

9/7/2012
Irving, TX
Kelsey
Bradley, Nimitz High School
The states need to look at the cases individually because each case is different and without knowing the whole story somebody could getting a bigger punishment than what they deserve. Person's personality does not change so drastically that if one year they committed murder that they wouldn't do the same two years later. If a sentence of life without parole is not cruel and not unusual for an adult then it shouldn't be for a juvenile. I can understand the situation being unusual but that is only because thankfully we do not have teenagers committing mass murders all over the US.

9/7/2012
Irving/Texas
Linda G
Ms. Bradley/Nimitz
The states should look at each case individually because as many people said before, no two cases are the same. Life sentence can be a bit cruel but if its something they deserve then its something they have to accept as punishment. Different facts in each case, like if it was on accident, should decide whether they get life sentence or a certain amount of jail time. But each prisoner should have an opportunity to defend themselves instead of having people choose his/her fate without him/her having a say in it.

9/7/2012
Irving/TX
Marisol
Bradley/Nimitz
I think states should deal with the Miller v. Alabama in a different way. Some people think that if a juveniles have committed a crime, then he or she, should pay the consequences. This is reasonable, but sentencing someone to life WITHOUT parole can be dangerous. It can be dangerous because in past there have been cases where the law was wrong. Besides, every case should be treated individually because not all cases will be the same, and there is always an exception to things. I am in no way saying that states should go easy on juveniles that have murdered. I am just saying that when looking in to this option, all other possibilities should be looked in to as well. Using this “no chance to parole” sentence can be considered as cruel and unusual punishment because it isn't fair. If states are trying to make justice, then it should be FAIR justice. But, this: this isn't fair. If it were up to me, I would try to make justice by looking in to every case separately, and then decide whether or not the person should be sentenced to life without parole.

9/7/2012
Sidney, MT
Lane
Mr. Faulhber
I think states should look at cases individually. I think that if states look into the cases personally that there could be some cases where that a mandatory life imprisonment with no parole could be unjust. A juvenile who outright murders a person in cold blood could be the right candidate for life in prison, but what if a juvenile was mentally unstable, or was defending somebody. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a life imprisonment for juveniles, but i think that they should not be ignored and thrown into jail without a negotiation of the consequences.

9/7/2012
Benson/AZ
Noah
Sorensen/Benson High School
2,500 is a large number when it comes to human lives, especially the live of juveniles. To have a child sentenced to life in prison, automatically, and without hope for parole, is cruel and unusual punishment. To live almost your entire life in prison from childhood to death, without the knowledge of all that is in the world, the inability to educate yourself, or to use what little education you have, is a brutal treatment of an individual who is incapable of the ability to exercise the judgment of an adult. Children should never be sentenced in the same manner as an adult who has committed the same crime.

9/7/2012
Benson, Arizona l
Katie W.
Mr.Sorensen/Benson High School.
I can see the fact that juveniles are responsible for their own actions, yet you have to look at the other side, they are still children. They may commit a crime and be sentenced to prision, but why a life sentence? Most men that are sentenced to life without parole is because they did something desperately horribly wrond to land there, and, they are already adults maybe in their mid thirties. I think that CHILDREN who have commited a crime should be allowed to go to prison with parole. If they have done something that bad to land themselves in prison then they could stay there for at least a three year max and if good behavior or "learning their lesson" they should be allowed a parole break. Soon the jails will over-flow if we do nothing but keep sticking CHILDREN in prison, eventually the prison cemetaries will fill up and it will be over run. They can only break, give up on and kill so many people with out realizing the way is to at least try to see if it works. Worse case, send 'em back to prison and send them to the pits of hell by a mans hand.

9/7/2012
benson/az
Luis L.
mr. sorensen/benson high school
i think that poeple should be put in jail. if its worst i think they should put them in jail for the rest of their life.

9/7/2012
Benson Arizona
Miriam E.
Mr.Sorensen
My opinion is that they are just children they shouldnt be taken to death penalty we are all humans and make mistakes we sometimes make wrong decisions which is too late for regretings I agree to give them a lesson by getting in jail but not extreme as to sentence them with death penalty.

9/7/2012
bemson high school
dakota
mr sorensen
ybe tthey shouid given them a second chance

9/7/2012
Benson AZ
Rondey R.
Mr Sorensen/ Benson High School
i Think that people should not do bad things in this country because this country is made for people to live in not for bad people

9/7/2012
benson/AZ
mattbeel
sorensen/benson
i think that if they did something bad enough to get the death penatle then they need becauce we dont need those kind of people hear on earth

9/7/2012
Benson/Arizona
Jonalyn
Mr. Sorensen/Benson High School
i think that the states should be allowed to give out the death sentence without putting them on parole first because there just children and i think thats a little extreame for them to put the death penaltiy on children i think they should have the right to parole first before the death sentence

9/7/2012
Benson, AZ
Dylan Bernal #5
Mr. Sorenson Benson High School
The states should rule that juvniles should be dealt the same and equal as normal prisons of the state. After all, everyone in America are EQUAL. The states should also look at the cases individually first, then a blanket ruling. Just to look at the cases form different perspectives and angles. No, lifetime without parole is not cruel and unuaual because like i said before, they should be treated equally to adult prisoners.

9/7/2012
benson/az
brandon
sorensen/benson
i think that if kids do things that are bad and they get life in jail they should be sentenced to death because there not helping any one with not paying taxes and things like that. they'll just cause maor porb. in jail maybe i think any body that is convicted to life in prison without parole, should be sentenced to the death penalty. They have nothing to contribute to the , no taxes, no service to their governement. stop paying for them.

9/7/2012
Benson/AZ
will
sorensen/benson
I think if you screw up so bad that you are convicted to life inprisonment, your time is through- we will sell your belongings to cover your court fees and run you through a proverbial meat grinder- Ye hath no sympathy for the man who has done wrong by his own fellow man. Hell hath no furry like that of America- love, disgruntled youth

9/7/2012
benson az
michael
mr. sorenson/ benson high school
i think if they deserve a life sentence they should serve it. my reasoning is because they chose there actions and need to pay the consiquences

9/7/2012
Irving/TX
Sandra C.
Bradley/Nimitz
I personally don't think that a life sentence without parole for a juvenile that was convicted of murder is not "cruel and unusual" punishment because they did murder someone knowing they murdered someone. States should look at cases individually to make a fair judgement for each person, even if it takes more time. I would just change the sentencing for juveniles by giving parole depending on the case. States should just do as they are asked and review their cases as of now.

9/7/2012
Sidney/MT
Mitch
Faulhaber/SHS
I beileve anybody that is convicted to life in prison without parole, should be sentenced to the death penalty. There is no use for them. They have nothing to contribute to the government, nothing at all, no taxes, no service to their governement. stop paying for them.

9/7/2012
Irving, TX
Chibueze
Austin/JESA
I think that the states shouldn't make life sentences mandatory and without parole. That is cruel and unusual for juveniles. I think that they should make a blanket ruling for this very reason. I would make things so that juveniles convicted of murder have the right (or privilege) to parole.

9/7/2012
Irving, TX
Daniela
Austin/JESA
I think that the states should deal with Miller v. Alabama differently. Because every case might have different causes or outcomes to it. The states should look at the cases individually because I don't think they should treat all the cases that are similar the same, because one detail can change the decision. Life term without parole does sound like cruel and unusual if the juvenile is between the ages of under 10 or 10-13 because they are still young, and possibly didn't grasp what they committed. Yet, if they are going into their teenage years, they understand more and know they did something wrong. I think in that case life term without parole is a adequate punishment.

9/7/2012
Irving, Tx
Cristina
Austin/JESA
The way that murder cases of juveniles are approached should vary. If the murder is first degree, the convicted sentence should carry into adulthood. If the murder was second degree once should have the chance to change their sentence once entering into adulthood. For example, young man is involved in a bank robbery, He panics and shoots a security guard and is tried with second degree murder. Life conviction for planned murder is fair. This would not violate the eighth amendment, and is considered neither cruel or unusual .It should vary depending on one’s age, crime, and sentence change.

9/7/2012
Vacaville
Nickoli M.
Hawkins
I believe that all states should operate around a Supreme Court's ruling. The job of the court system is to interpret the law. Once a decision has been made, all states should follow that ruling. I believe it is even more important in this case, because it deals with minors. Decisions made when you are that young cannot adequately reflect your personality.

9/7/2012
Irving, Texas
Dominic
Bradley/Nimitz High School
Giving juveniles without parole is definitely unconstitutional. Let's remember that by law, they still are kids. Kids make mistakes. I think heavy counseling is a great alternative to life in prison. And another thing, why would you put kids in the same prison as grown men who have been convicted of rape, murder, and drug trafficking?

9/7/2012
Irving Texas
Dakota S.
Bradley/Nimitz
I think the the state government should take account, for the Supreme Courts ruling. Because, you never know what actually happened till you hear both sides of the story. The kids who committed the crime could have done it in self-defense. But if they murdered some one as a act of violence then they should be sentenced to life with no parole, because then they have committed a crime, and that the eighth amendment has not been violated against.

9/7/2012
Irving/ Texas
Vanessa C.
Bradley/Nimitz
States should take into account the Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama individually. Because some of the cases can be self defense , accidents, so courts need to take into account that every case is different and that every decision is important. I think that a life term without parole is not ''Cruel and Unusual punishment'' because if you intended to murder someone and did it you should pay for the consequences that you deserve. Its all about the case if it was accidentally or what ever the case may be it's also how they act during jail time and their background life before they came to jail ( other felonies).

9/6/2012
Irving/Tx
Hector S.
Bradley/Nimitz
According to the Supreme Court case Miller v. Alabama, it is unconstitutional to automatically sentence a juvenile convicted of murder an automatic life sentence. I feel that states should operate around the decision of the court case. States should look at every case individually. No two cases that are the same. A life term without parole for a juvenile convicted of murder is not cruel and unusual. The person, under aged, still took a life and should pay the consequences for his/her actions. The only way I feel that a life term without parole to be cruel and unusual is if the individual convicted of murder were not to be given a fair trial to plead his/her case. If I were given the authority to change the sentencing guidelines for juveniles, I would treat them as if they were adults. All people should pay for their consequences, their age should not pay a factor what so ever.

9/6/2012
Irving/Tx
Cindy M
Bradley/Nimitz
The court should follow the ruling of the case Roper V. Simmons. I do not think it should be fair for jouviniles to be sentence life in prison for murder. I am not saying they should not be punished at all, but life is a little too harsh in my opinion. They commited a crime while still being a minor. The punishment also depends on the degree of the murder.

9/6/2012
Irving/Texas
Hannah
Bradley/Nimitz
States should deal with Miller v. Alabama by making their own sentences and changing their laws to fit the seriousness in their own states. They should judge the cases individually instead of blanket rulings because each case is unique. Each perpetrator has a different story and should not be judged with every other minor. A life term without parole is cruel and unusual punishment because the minor should have time to reflect on what they have done and not be punished their whole lives for what they did as a child. I would give each minor a chance to defend themselves and I would let a jury decide their fate instead of instant judgment.

9/6/2012
Irving/Texas
Heather
Ms. Bradley/Nimitz
The states should take the court ruling in Miller v. Alabama and form new policies and new sentencings. You need more than just one sentencing because the natures of the same crime can be different from others. Yes, cases need to be individually looked at because there are going to be many details throughout each case that aren't going to be the same for the other cases, and it would not be fair to the person being tried if their crime was compared to anothers. For juveniles, I do believe a life term without parole is cruel and unusal just for the fact that as a child you do need to be responsible for what you have done, but you do need a second chance to learn and grow, and obviously if you committed a crime that major, then their must be a hole within your home life. To fix this issue, states must look at the child's discipline record, their home-life, their friends, and especially their parents. A major reason for children acting out and doing harsh crimes are because they either have a "bad" home, or hang out with someone who has a "bad" home too. A bad home meaning their parents are either gone, and they jump from foster home to foster home, or their parents are drug addicts or alcholics. You need to look at their background and see instead of giving them life without parole, get them some help. Use factors in determining their sentencing, they should get jail time, but life without parole being the only sentencing is too harsh. You can not say "Oh, you committed murder, you get life without parole".

9/6/2012
Irving/Tx
Kenia R
Bradley/Nimitz
States should take into account Miller V. Alabama and think about their purpose, and how it would help in every state if they followed the same rules. There should not be a blanket ruling because each murder case is different and should have its own attention and not just fall into a category and have the same punishment. Juveniles should get sentencing and be able to be on parole. Because the murders have been committed before they were adults and they had not matured well and maybe they didnt know the consequences of their actions. It is not cruel or unusual punishment because they committed murder after all.

9/6/2012
Irving/Texas
Rebecca
Bradley/Nimitz
In the case Miller v. Alabama the court ruled in favor of life sentence, the states should deal with the supreme court by understanding that it is unconstitutional. The states should look at cases individually because they need to see if right choices were made and there was no mistakes. A life term without parole is not “cruel and unusual” punishment because if you do the crime then you should do the time. Depending on the crime juveniles should be able to get out of their life time imprisonment if they have good behavior.

9/6/2012
Irving/ TX
Amber P
Ms. Bradley/ Nimitz
States should take into account Miller V. Alabama, and see would it help if their own states adopted the same thing. Each murder case is different, so there shouldn’t be a one size fits all- "blanket ruling," of sorts. Cruel and unusual seems to be the best way to describe a child not getting a second chance at life. I would change the sentencing so the Juveniles get parole, nothing more, nothings less than what they deserve.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, CA
Brandon
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham Charter Magnet High School
I believe that states should deal with the ruling of Miller v. Alabama in one way, and one way only. A blanket ruling would not help the numerous cases. States should look at cases individually. If a blanket ruling were made the juveniles that were convicted of a crime would automatically lose the rest of their life, ergo, spend it in prison with no chance of parole. If the states were to look at each case individually, the punishment could be dealt in accordance with the severity of the crime. For example, an adolescent of fifteen years old could be convicted of a double homicide, so he would be sentenced to forty years to life, but with a chance of parole. The chance of parole would be key, because without it, the individual will have squandered the remainder of their life just because a ruling will not allow them parole. A life term without parole does categorize as “cruel and unusual” punishment for a juvenile convicted of murder. With a juvenile, they have the rest of their life to live, so they deserve a second chance. If I were to change the sentencing guidelines, I’d alter the laws to allow the teenager a chance at parole, and a new chance to start their life on the right track.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, CA
Sabrina
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham Magnet Charter
I think that convicting a juvenile for a life sentence with a parole is probable, but I think that some cases should be looked at individually since there are some outliers. Not all juveniles convicted for murder should automatically get a life sentence without parole, since children usually act with their uncontrolled emotion and conflicting feelings. Though I believe that any type of murder is unlawful and wrong, I think that children who commit murder are not entirely at fault, since their brains aren’t fully developed. If a juvenile has acted on their will, then they should face life in prison, but with parole.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, California
Amanda
Mr.Hawkins, Buckingham Magnet Charter School
The United States Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that automatic life sentences without a chance for parole for juveniles convicted of murder was unconstitutional, a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which protects individuals from “cruel and unusual” punishment. The state allowed inmates who as juveniles were automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole to challenge their sentences. If the states made a blanket ruling, it would allow all inmates the chance for parole, rather than look at cases individually. I firmly believe that states should look at cases individually, based on the idea that some cases are not as severe as other cases. A life term without parole is not a cruel or unjust punishment for a juvenile convicted of murder. Furthermore, I would change the sentencing guidelines for juveniles based on their age and severity of their crime.

9/5/2012
Vacaville/California
Brennan
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham Charter Magnet High School
In cases of murder, I believe a sentence of life without parole is justified; even in juvenile trials. If one is able to comprehend their actions, I believe they must be able to accept the punishment that fits the crime. Juveniles as young as the age of thirteen are, in my opinion, certainly able to understand their capabilities and if they commit a crime, know that they have done something wrong. I believe a sentence of life without parole for juveniles is, in fact, constitutional as the act of murder is grave enough to warrant even the toughest of punishments.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, Ca
Allison
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham Charter Magnet
The approach on murder cases of juveniles should vary. If the murder is first degree, the convicted minor’s sentence should carry into adulthood. However, if the murder was second degree once should have the chance to change their sentence once entering into adulthood. For example; a young man is involved in a bank robbery, He panics and shoots a security guard and is tried with second degree murder. Life conviction for planned murder is fair. This would not violate the eighth amendment, and is considered neither cruel nor unusual. Depending on one’s age, crime, and sentence the chance of change of sentence should vary.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, CA
Samantha
Mr. Hawkins / Buckingham Magnet Charter
Our Constitution does not distinctly state that denying bail is cruel and unusual punishment. The way that our government is currently functioning is that the court can deny bail if the defendant is a risk to the community itself, or is certain to run. Due to this, I believe that these cases should be looked at individually, because each case and circumstance is individual and never carry the same set of circumstances. Because it is not explicitly stated in the Constitution, this decision should be left to each state’s interpretations and core values as a society. Making a blanket ruling leaves too many youth in the dark, without any means of escape. Young people are still developing mentally and although it is not the same in all cases, it pushes the need for cases to be looked at individually. By the time they are adults many things about them may have changed. If a 14 year old is convicted of murder, they still have approximately 50-60 years left to live. After 20 years in prison, now at the age of 34, the teen would be a very different person than they were at the time of conviction. The convicted youths should still be granted the right at attempt of bail, because to not be allowed even the opening, is cruel and unusual punishment.

9/5/2012
Vacaville/CA
Katie
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham Magnet Charter
I believe that states should keep the life sentence with parole ruling. However, the states should look at the cases individually so that the ruling isn’t unconstitutional and violating the Eighth Amendment. If there was a case where someone killed another person in self-defense, the person shouldn’t be sent to jail for life without parole. Since this was an act of self-defense, to give the individual this ruling would be an infringement on their rights. A life term without parole, ruled under the correct reasons, is not “cruel and unusual” punishment. In most cases, murder is first or second degree. In these instances, the life term without parole is just. For juveniles convicted of murder, I feel that the life sentence without parole is fair, if the murder is first or second degree. This shows that the teenager planned the murder and went through with it. If the juvenile thought this out like an adult, they should be tried like an adult and ruled with the same punishment.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, VA
Eamon
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham Charter Magnet
The Supreme Court’s ruling was the right decision to make for the 2,500 people who, in my mind, have been sentenced unfairly. First having a blanket ruling does not take into account individual cases and an over generalization off all cases. Instead juveniles who have committed murder should have their cases looked at individually. What were the reasons, the motives, the rationales, and circumstances of when the juvenile committed the murder? For example if someone is bullying people and the incident leads to death that should be a life sentence with parole, because in many ways it is akin to manslaughter, or murder but not first degree murder. If on the other hand the juvenile willing plans and partakes in something such as a gang related violence such as a drive by that is first degree murder and should result in life without parole. Again the Supreme Court made the correct decision, and not offering life without parole to juveniles is wrong, but cases need to looked at individually and whether the Juvenile could commit a similar crime, along with the circumstances of the original murder. Juveniles who are extremely likely to commit murder again, and who committed a first degree murder should be sentenced to life without parole.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, CA
Garrick
Mr.Hawkins / Buckinhgam Magnet Charter
I don’t like the idea of the blanket ruling. I believe that states should look at each case individually. The idea of the blanket ruling seems quite unfair each case is different and should be looked at individually. I do not believe that life without parole is cruel and unusual punishment in every case. However I would like to reiterate that every case is different. Life without parole may be completely understandable for one case but unreasonable for another which is why I believe every case should be looked at individually.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, CA
Sam
Mr. Hawkins / Buckingham Magnet Charter
If someone has committed a crime heinous enough to merit a life sentence, I believe they don’t deserve a chance of parole. Even when someone is young, basic law applies. Everyone at all ages should know that murder is wrong, and if they don’t then it is unsafe to allow them a second chance of reentering society. Everyone knows murder is wrong, to commit it is to knowingly break the law, these kids know what they’ve done is wrong and must be punished.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, CA
Janette
Mr. Hawkins/ Buckingham Charter Magnet
I think that the states should look at the case individually, because everyone makes mistakes and you shouldn’t be killed for it. I think that a life term without perole is definitely cruel and unusual. They should change the sentencing guidelines by giving juviniles more chances before giving them life snetence. It is cruel because they are only kids, they have their whole lives ahead of them. Sure they made a really bad mistake that most likely affected their lives and lives of others. People should be given chances in life to live and learn.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, CA
Taylor
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham Charter
I think that the states should look at each individual case, because every case is very different and it deserves to be looked at carefully. I don’t think that people should be held accountable for things that they did when they were minors. Everyone makes mistakes and I don’t think that they should carry those mistakes with them for the rest of their lives. I also think that there should not be a life time sentence on minors, and I don’t think that that sentence should stay with them. Once they’re an adult I think that all chargers should be lifted and they should get somewhat of a clean start.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, CA
Jake
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham
I think that if a person were to kill someone on purpose and had that bad intention, then they’re case isn’t “cruel or unusual”. Just because they are juvenile, it doesn’t mean they’re punishment should be treated differently. Murder is murder. Getting life sentence for murder isn’t cruel, you killed someone so your punishment shouldn’t be treated lightly. Juveniles today have a reputation of acting out, maybe because they have broken families or other issues they don’t know how to deal with and they lose it and kill someone.

9/5/2012
Vacaville, CA
Jacob
Mr. Hawkins / Buckingham Magnet Charter
I believe that not allowing Juveniles convicted of murder a chance at parole should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. The crimes committed and the circumstances for each criminal are almost never identical and therefore the rulings in the court should be unique to each separate case. A blanket ruling of ‘life without parole’ does not adequately serve justice to the convicted. Because the criminals were young, a lot of different factors probably affected their decision to commit a crime. Many young people make mistakes, some worse than others, but they should be given the chance to make right and start over after serving a reasonable sentence. Denying the convicted a chance at parole erases all incentive to recognize what they did wrong and work to change themselves. They may have had a rough childhood and made poor decisions but that does not necessarily mean they can not change themselves down the road. If they do change and recognize what they did wrong they should be allowed back into society after a reasonable period of jail time.

9/5/2012
Irving/TX
Kristian
Bradley/Nimitz HS
The ruling in Miller v. Alabama case would be very hard for the states to deal with because they are the people who initially made the call for the life sentences. The states should deal with the Supreme Court's by following their rules and understanding that it is said to be unconstitutional. The states should look at cases individually to see if they made the right choices and to review the cases one more time. I believe that the life term is not "cruel and unusual" punishment because those juveniles killed someone and it is dangerous not to lock them up. However since they are juvenile and not considered adults, it might be a little harsh to keep them in jail for life. So, i think the sentencing should be changed to at least 10-15 years in jail and a long parole after getting released, if they have good behavior.

Related News
Related Resources
Share