Should juveniles convicted of murder be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or subjected to the death penalty?
¨“Should juveniles convicted of murder be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or subjected to the death penalty?
In your response reference videos from the chapter relating to this issue in support of your answer.
Second, most of our society is against juvenile waivers, but waivers are essential to our juvenile justice system.
Do you support juvenile waivers? In support of your answer reference videos from the PowerPoint in support of your answer.”
Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia do not have any prisoners serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles, either due to laws prohibiting the sentence or because there are no individuals serving the sentence at this time.
The life experiences of those sentenced to life as juveniles varies, but they are often marked by very difficult upbringings with frequent exposure to violence; they were often victims of abuse themselves. Justice Kagan, in Miller, ruled that Alabama and Arkansas erred because a mandatory sentencing structure does not “tak[e] into account the family and home environment.”26)
The petitioners in those cases, Kuntrell Jackson and Evan Miller, both 14 at the time of their crimes, grew up in highly unstable homes. Evan Miller was a troubled child; he attempted suicide four times, starting at age 6.27) Kuntrell Jackson’s family life was “immers[ed] in violence: Both his mother and his grandmother had previously shot other individuals.”28) His mother and a brother were sent to prison. The defendant in Graham, Terrance Graham, had parents who were addicted to crack cocaine.29) Similarly, in Jones, Justice Sotomayor’s dissent noted that “Brett Jones was the victim of violence and neglect that he was too young to escape.”30)
In 2012, The Sentencing Project released findings from a survey of people sentenced to life in prison as juveniles and found the defendants in the above cases were not unusual.31)
Racial disparities plague the imposition of JLWOP sentences. Sixty-two percent of people serving JLWOP, among those for whom racial data are available, are African American. While 23% of juvenile arrests for murder involve an African American suspected of killing a white person, 42% of JLWOP sentences are for an African American convicted of this crime. White juvenile offenders with African American victims are only about half as likely (3.6%) to receive a JWLOP sentence as their proportion of arrests for killing an African American (6.4%).32)
Aside from important justice considerations, the financial cost of JLWOP sentences is significant. A life sentence issued to a juvenile is designed to last longer than a life sentence issued to an older defendant.
Housing juveniles for a life sentence requires decades of public expenditures. Nationally, it costs over $33,000 per year to house an average prisoner. This cost roughly doubles when that person is over 50.33) Therefore, a 50-year sentence for a 16-year old will cost upwards of $2.25 million.