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Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal

Abstract

Over the last decade, the Supreme Court of the United States has delivered a series of rulings establishing that juvenile offenders are to have their criminal sentences considered differently from that of adults. Over this span of time, the Court established that it is unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to the death penalty in any scenario, as well as to life without parole for non-homicide crimes. In the 2012 case of Miller v. Alabama, the Court extended this line of reasoning by declaring that even for juveniles who commit homicides, life without parole may not be imposed as part of a mandatory sentencing scheme; the judge must have discretion to consider mitigating factors such as youth. This article argues that the time has come for the Court to make the next logical step. Kids are different from adults and should be sentenced accordingly. Life without the possibility of parole should never be a sentencing option for juveniles. For both legal and biological reasons, no matter what act a minor commits, it is impossible to determine that a young person is irredeemable and thus undeserving of a chance to reenter society.

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