Friday, July 20, 2012

Great Debate: Sentencing Juveniles To Life With Chance of Parole?

Last month the Austin Statesman published the article Juvenile life sentence ruling is wise” an article referring to the possibility of the decision to retract life sentencing without parole to convicted juveniles. The U.S. Supreme Court “ruled that state laws mandating that defendants younger than 18 who are convicted of murder be sentenced to life in prison without parole violated the Constitution's Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.”

In 2009, Texas legislature banned life without parole of juveniles but Texas’ law failed to make prohibition retroactive. “Thus, 27 juveniles who were convicted of capital murder as adults between 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court banned the death penalty for juveniles, and the passage of the new 2009 law are sitting in prison without any chance for parole.”

The first sentence of the article states, “Sentencing children to die in prison is cruel and unusual and therefore unconstitutional.” The Supreme Court obviously agrees when they decided to change this matter.

The writer of this article certainly gives his or her thoughts about this by addressing, “Prison keys should be pocketed for juvenile offenders, not thrown away…juvenile defendants must be allowed hope for redemption — to see hope for a life beyond death in prison.” Knowing that the author is in favor of live sentencing with parole for juveniles what about rare cases that seek a deeper punishment? Do we still think that should exist? What about rare cases when we believe harsher punishment should be granted? I wonder if the author would have taken a side.

For rare cases where sentencing without parole would be necessary I believe it would not be unconstituinal because of the severity of the crime, and it would be better than the death penalty. Many people to this day still debate on this matter as well as matter of whether the death penalty should still exist.

I believe that the author intended this article to be guided toward a general audience providing knowledge about Texas’ juvenile criminals. The author provides cases within the article that have something in common – broken pasts and broken homes. This could possibly be also guided to adults seeing as children are usually a reflection of their parents (not always though). I think this is a very interesting article because the debate for punishment to any age will most likely be changed many more times. 

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