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Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Post: Kids Cannot Be Sentenced to Mandatory Life Without Parole


In a somewhat surprising ruling coming from a conservative Supreme Court, the Court ruled today that juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to mandatory life without parole.

Our society tends to view children as more fragile than adults, and there is good reason to do so. There has been a tremendous amount of research over the years demonstrating that the human brain develops slowly and children'd brains work very differently than adult brains. Even kids aged 18 have less of a capacity to think well than adults do.

The Court stated that it is a violation of the Eighth Amendment (Cruel & Unusual Punishment Clause) to sentence a juvenile to mandatory life without parole. A mandatory sentence implies that a court has no choice but to sentence every juvenile convicted of certain crimes to that harsh punishment, regardless of the child's individual circumstances.

It is still possible to sentence a child to life without parole, but those individual circumstances must be weighed--the age of the child, the developmental level, the quality of the parenting--all of these are important aspects of child development that have a much stronger effect on a juvenile offender than on an adult offender. To ignore those circumstances would be, as the Court ruled, cruel.

The cases the Courts ruled on were Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Jackson v. Hobbs (2012).

Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.
CherryCreekPsychology.com
Facebook.com/drmaxwachtel
Twitter.com/mwachtel

12 comments:

the excuse of NOT giving them a life sentence is being used to spin more corruption. Okay if there brains work differently, and on a more primitive level, then how come do we psychologically hurt them further by putting them in jail? What do reports say kids need to thrive and live? Certainly not to be sealed in a room and bullied by adults. Look its one thing to do this to lost causes like serial killers to get them off the streets. Anyway, they need to LEARN what they did was wrong. Solve those reasons for basic crimes. Anyway, lets go back to the source why all these crimes are happening. Kids need more guidance from adults, and our school systems need to make learning life morals more important. And I'm not talking about pointing every kid to learn it from a book. Getting along in life takes living it and learning proper messages from mistakes. before they make BIG mistakes. the American Public School system pushes to learn knowledgeable subjects, and the main focus for stopping bad behavior is "If it stops work" and even questioning a belief in something. Then they urge students to go along with it. Anyway, then 100 kids are released on there own to play on the playground. Things go on and things happen because 10 adults cannot complete this task logically. They have more height, and the kids have more mass. While there busy somewhere, somewhere else something ELSE is happening. Anyway, that's why things are going downhill. Each period a new generation pops up now its producing more catastrophic effects. The real problem isn't the stuff, its the people using them or doing things. Why would people with good morals do this? Oh kids they make mistakes. The problem is the mistakes are coming in great numbers. This all is despicable. When these kids get out of jail there going to be angry, hurt young adults. And the kids who are losers without going here because there judged weak? There going to be angry. You cannot build a good culture without a foundation to the people. the foundation of people parenting and wherever and however. for America it is SCHOOLS.

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