Prison for Minors

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“Prison is no place for anybody to start off at. This is where everybody ends up and they end up being a loser in life. This is where the ball game begins and only the tough survive” (“Prison”). There are approximately 2,500 prisoners serving life without parole sentences for homicide committed when they were under the age 18. More than 2,000 of them received that sentence as a result of a mandatory sentencing scheme (“US”). State laws call for a mandatory sentence of life without parole for those convicted of a felony murder. However, the Supreme Court ruled in June 2012 that mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional. To sentence a minor to life in prison is unjust because people under the age of eighteen do not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions, exposure to violence as a child influences their actions, and they are not legal adults and should not be held liable for adult consequences.
"The teenage brain is like a car with a good accelerator but a weak brake. With powerful impulses under poor control, the likely result is a crash.” (Ritter). An adolescent does not have complete power over their impulses, unlike fully developed adults. “The frontal lobe includes the prefrontal cortex, which controls executive functions like planning, decision-making, the expression of emotion, and impulse control. The prefrontal cortex may not be completely developed until a person is in his or her mid-twenties. This explains why adolescents have less impulse control than adults, are less able to think through the long-term consequences of their decisions, and are more susceptible to peer pressure. Does it make sense, then, to punish a youth in the same way we punish adults?” (Harris). The brain w...

... middle of paper ... the biggest difference. Children and young adults deserve a second chance and deserve to live their lives to the fullest, not behind bars for the rest of their time.

Works Cited
Carrizales, Alison. Schultz. “Miller v. Alabama (10-9646).” Web. 19 Dec. 2013
Harris, Michael. “California law Gives Youth Sentenced to Life Without Parole Another Chance.” Web. 16 Dec. 2013
“Prison Quotes” Web. 11 Dec. 2013
Ritter, Malcolm. “Experts Link Teen Brains’ Immaturity, Juvenile Crime.” Usatoday. Associated Press, 2 Dec. 2007. Web. 16 Dec. 2013.
Savage, David G. "Supreme Court Rules Mandatory Juvenile Life Without Parole Cruel and Unusual". The Los Angeles Times, 25 June. 2012. Web 21 Dec. 2013
U.S. Constitution. Amend. VIII
“US Supreme Court Bans Mandatory Life Without Parole for Youth.” Web. 5 Dec. 2013
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