Saint Leo University
I. The Problem
The issue of juveniles serving life sentences, for non homicide offenses, is becoming a recognizable problem in the state of Florida and across the country. This punishment became enacted within the federal, state, and local judicial system when courtrooms and prosecutors were given permission to utilize prosecutorial discretion when deciding to send a juvenile to an adult court. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy felt this process was wrong when he stated: “there is no statutory differentiation between adults and juveniles with respect to authorized penalties” (Re, R.M., 2011, p. 367).
A juvenile court system was intentionally created and designed to accommodate offenders under a certain age, who committed certain offenses. Consideration of sentencing was based on future recidivism, and possible rehabilitation for proper functionality within society. Yet, the courts do not appear to be separating this judicial process and are sending these young individuals directly to adult criminal courts as a preemptory strike against the potential for future crimes, as well as the protection of society as a whole (Brink, 2004).
This paper will show both sides of the legal issues involved with juveniles serving life sentences, as well as researched data necessary to determine if the offenses committed truly match the punishment. Mitigating factors examined will consist of looking at the juvenile as an individual, their upbringing and societal influences, brain developmental stages, and the consequences and benefits necessary to consider when choosing to send a juvenile to jail for the remainder of their life. Finally, recommendations will be offered to determine the best courses of action for the court systems, who determine their ultimate fate, for your review and consideration.
II. Factors Bearing on the Problem * JUVENILE DEVELOPMENT:
Emerging psychopathological perspectives show how certain and
References: Bazemore, G., & Terry, W. C. (1997). Developing delinquent youths: A reintegrative model for rehabilition and a new role for the juvenile justice system Brink, D. O. (2004). Immaturity, normative competence, and juvenile transfer: How (not) to punish minors for major crimes Fagan, J. (2010). The contradictions of juvenile crime & punishment. Daedalus, 139(3), 43-43 61,145 Ginwright, S., & Cammarota, J. (2002). New terrain in youth development: The promise of a social justice approach Hansen, M. (2010). What 's the matter with kids today? ABA Journal, 96(7), http://ezproxy.saintleo.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/612914373?aco Justices Bar Life Terms for Youths Who Haven’t Killed. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS May 17, 2010 Ré, R.M. (2011). Can congress overturn graham V. Florida? Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, 34(1), 367-367-375 Sullivan, R., & Wilson, M. F. (1995). New directions for research in prevention and treatment of delinquency: A review and proposal Terrance Graham v. State of Florida, 129 S.Ct. 2157 (2009) (Opinion granting certiorari). See also, Petition for Writ of Certiorari, Terrance Graham v. State of Florida, 2008 WL 6031405 (Nov. 20, 2008) (No. 08-7412). Urbina, M