Supreme Court ruling Graham v. Florida (2010) banned the use of life without parole for juveniles who committed non-homicide crimes, and Roper v. Simmons (2005) abolished the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders. They both argued that these sentences violated the 8th Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. While these landmark cases made great strides for the rights of minors passing through the criminal justice system, they are just the first steps in creating a juvenile justice system that takes into consideration the vast differences between adolescents and adults. Using sociological (Butler, 2010) and legal (Harvard Law Review, 2010) documents, this essay will explicate why the next such step to be taken is entirely eliminating the use of the life without parole sentence for juveniles, regardless of the nature of the crime being charged.
The original concept behind the juvenile court system was an emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment. It was supposed to provide a means of protecting the child from the harshness of the adult court, which emphasized obtaining guilt and punishing the individual (Hickey, 2010). The dichotomies of "treatment-punishment" and "chi...
The sentencing process is created by some of the legislative party, who use their control to decide on the type of criminal punishment. The sentencing guidelines for the judges to go by can be different depending on the jurisdiction and can include different sentencing such as “diversionary programs, fines, probation, intermediate sanctions, confinement in jail, incarceration in a state or federal prison, and the death penalty” (Siegel & Bartollas, 2011, p. 40). In some jurisdictions the death penalty is not included as one of the punishments. Being sentenced is step one of the correction process and is in place to discourage repeat offenders (Siegel & Bartollas, 2011, p. 40). Depending on the crime committed the offender can be sentenced to a consecutive sentence or a concurrent sentence. If an offender is charged for committing more than one crime the judge can give the offender a concurrent sentence where both charges are served at the same time. If an offender is charged for committing more than one crime the offender can be giving a sentenced where he has to serve time for each crime one after the other (Siegel & Worrall, 2013, p. 210). Once the offender has been sentenced from there you will be able to determine if the sentence is indeterminate or determinate.
When discussing juvenile offenders, there seems to be a distinct divide between how they should be treated. Some believe such young citizens should be treated with leniency in court while others completely disagree. This raises the question, “Should minors be treated with more leniency than their adult counterparts due to their youth?” Despite that the judicial system has flaws, treating juvenile offenders as adults in a court of law proves to be disadvantageous.
Negative Consequences of Mandatory Sentencing In recent years several mandatory sentencing laws have been put into motion. The original goals of the mandatory sentencing laws were to stop repeat offenders and to exhibit a "get tough attitude" on crime. These laws have not been working as intended, instead mandatory sentencing has led to some unfortunate consequences. Some of these consequences are overcrowding in prisons and less prison based rehabilitation.
Mandatory sentencing is not anything new. It began in the 1970s. The main purpose for mandatory sentencing was to try to get rid of the drug lords and to eliminate most of the nation’s street drug selling. It was to impose that the same crime would have the same sentence all over the nation. Some of the negatives that rose from mandatory sentencing were nonviolent drug offenders and first time offenders who were receiving harsh sentences. Inmate populations and correction costs increased and pushed states to build more prisons. Judges were overloaded with these cases, and lengthy prison terms were mandated to these young offenders. Mandatory sentencing is an interesting topic in which I would like to discuss my opinions in going against mandatory sentencing. I will show the reasons for this topic, as well as give you my personal brief on which I support.
One of the most controversial issues in the rights of juveniles today is addressed in the question, "Should the death penalty be applied to juveniles"? For nearly a century the juvenile courts have existed to shield the majority of juvenile offenders from the full weight of criminal law and to protect their entitled "special rights and immunities." In the case of kent vs. United states in 1996, Justice Fortas stated some of these "special rights" which include; Protection from publicity, confinement only to twenty-one years of age, no confinement with adults, and protection against the consequences of adult conviction such as the loss of civil rights, the use of adjudication against him in subsequent proceedings and disqualification of public employment (Kent vs. US 1966:1055). These " special rights and immunities " exist so that the justice courts can provide measures of guidance and rehabilitation for the child along with protection for society. However, there are some youths who are extremely dangerous and do not respond to attempts to reform themselves. The question is, should established mechanisms for transferring or waiving juvenile court jurisdiction in these exceptional cases take away these "special rights" and subject the youth to the full range of penalties for criminal behavior including, in some jurisdictions, execution (Thomson vs. State, 1986:784) ? Should These juveniles who perform the same malicious acts as some adult capital offenders be subject to the harshness of the criminal courts and the finality of the death penalty ? This paper will discuss a history of capital punishment for juveniles in the United States, methods of transferring juvenile cases to cri...