Religion and Ethics Newsweekly—For Heinous Crimes Should Juveniles be Given Life without Parole?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....The Supreme Court is now expected to use the Miller case to determine whether states are required to consider giving juveniles a second chance, no matter what they did. And each side is giving up a little in this case. Alabama is not arguing that all juvenile murderers should be ineligible for parole, only those who commit the worst crimes—crimes that would bring a death sentence if the defendant were an adult.

Evan Miller is represented by the Equal Justice Initiative and its founder and executive director, Bryan Stevenson, and Stevenson isn’t asking anyone actually be given parole, only that when offenders are so young that at some point far down the road, they at least be allowed to demonstrate they are entitled to be set free.

BRYAN STEVENSON (Equal Justice Initiative): I think everyone is more than the worst thing they’ve ever done, and I think that policy makers can make decisions about how to punish them. But I think children are uniquely more than their worst act; they have quintessential qualities and characteristics that a decent society, a maturing society, an evolved society, we believe, is constitutionally obligated to recognize and protect.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Cennydd13 wrote:

I’m opposed to capital punishment in any case, and I certainly do not believe that it should ever be imposed on anyone under legal age.  Is life without possibility of parole acceptable?  That would have to depend on how heinous the murder was.  In some states, underage persons who have committed murder are sent to a youth prison until they reach a certain age, and then are transferred to an adult facility for the balance of their sentence, which I believe is usually life with the possibility of parole.  I do believe that such offenders deserve a second chance…...provided, of course, that they can demonstrate that they deserve that chance.

May 28, 12:07 am | [comment link]
2. Clueless wrote:

I disagree.  I don’t think we should throw away 14 year olds.  I
think that we should be giving people a reason to repent, and return to society.  I would favor 7 year sentences in most “henious” crimes.  During that time, the individual should be encouraged to earn a degree/learn a trade, and meditate on what he/she did and why it was wrong.  He should be required to come up with ideas as how to make ammends.  He should get clean and sober.

At that point the individual should be reassessed to determine if he is the same person.  If he/she is deemed unrehabilitatable then he should simply go to Death Row. 

If he appears to have developed a conscience, then he should be given a job outside the prison that brings him in contact with normal people for the seven years so that he is in society days, and back in jail nights.

After another 7 years he should be released, and his records should be sealed so that he/she is able to find real work in the private sector. 

This would both protect Society, and fulfill our duties to the individual in question.

May 29, 2:42 pm | [comment link]
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