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PUBLIC OPINION > Some Juvies Should Get Life Without Parole

News 2011/11/09 19:00:00
Juvenile sentencing has gone through a lot of adjustments recently, and the latest development is a Supreme Court discussion on life without parole. The judges are examining two murder cases that involved 14-year-old offenders, both of whom were sentenced to life in prison without hope of parole, to determine whether or not the punishment is "cruel and unusual" for perpetrators that young.

We took the issue to SodaHeads to find out what the public thinks, and were struck with distinctly opposing views in many categories. We expected political disagreement and age differences, but we didn't expect it to be so pronounced.

Should Teens Be Able to Get Life Without Parole?



62% Say Lock 'Em Up

Nearly two-thirds of respondents think the option should be available, as long as the punishment fits the crime. A handful of comments invoked the death penalty, which was abolished as juvenile punishment in 2005, but most simply argued that teen criminals are still criminals. One commenter wrote, "Perhaps 13 or 14 is a bit young, admittedly, but certainly an older teenager should understand that murder is wrong and that you can get life for it. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime."



Men Show No Mercy

Presumably this shouldn't matter in a court of law, but if you're a teen looking for a light sentence, Judge Judy might actually be a good bet. Women were split right down the middle, but 72% of men were in favor of juvenile life sentencing. Now you know which parent to approach with your next confession.

Incoming Incarceration

There appears to be a strong, direct correlation between income and the answer to this question. Those who reported less than $25,000 a year were 48% in favor of juvenile life sentencing; voters making over $100K were 95% in favor. The lowest bracket does include students, but the percent rose steadily through the middle brackets.



Conservatives Crack Down

The most striking difference was, of course, political. With 88% in favor, conservative voters were significantly more willing to support juvenile life sentencing than progressives (33%), liberals (43%), moderates (47%), and even libertarians (64%).


If you'd like to voice your own opinion on this poll or dig deeper into the demographics yourself, you can do so on our original question about juvenile life sentences. We'd love to hear from you.
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Top Opinion

  • BackRoadz 2011/11/09 21:28:03
    BackRoadz
    +10
    Teens as young as 14 have committed some pretty horroriffic murders. Anyone that could do something so horrible to another humanbeing SHOULD spend the rest of their life behind bars or face the DP. At age 14 you're old enough to know right from wrong and if you choose to do wrong then you should pay the price.

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  • 2012/02/27 22:12:15
    +1
    The number one country in the world for juvenile executions is Iran. Second China and third is the USA. Seems we Americans are in questionable company. Reading these comments pretty much explains why Americans murder Americans at a higher rate than the rest of the world combined. "Try'em and fry'em" that mentality says it all.
  • bronwyn 2012/02/16 15:25:25
    bronwyn
    Indy is right. Science proves kids are a bit sociopathic while swimming in hormone stew; reasonable behavior is far more challenging for them. We all went through that. So lock them up forever because you can't let a kid raised on a$$ rape out into the general public 25 years later? Reeks of (justified) fear rather than morality (aren't we trying to retain that?). HOWEVER, there are cases like this one:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
    where IMO death penalty was deserved.
    A 14 year old shoots a father who has been molesting him/her for years? Acquittal.
  • Kit_Kat 2012/02/14 04:18:43 (edited)
  • Yeahaboutthatthough 2012/01/02 04:00:18
    Yeahaboutthatthough
    +1
    Outdated reasoning. Scientists used to think human brain development was pretty complete by age 10. But today, the research says, to suggest a teenage brain is just an adult brain with fewer miles on it is just factually incorrect. To begin with, a crucial part of the brain — the frontal lobes — aren't fully operational. That's the part of the brain that says,"Is this a good idea? What is the consequence of this action?" This is proven science and is no longer a scholarly debate. Its just absurd to send these kids to jail for 80 years of a$$ rape. There needs to be another way to go about getting justice.
  • Roger47 2011/11/14 06:01:54
    Roger47
    +2
    Funny the conservatives would so willingly award free room and board for life to children. The brain is still developing until the mid 20's. Any parent who has ever had the pleasure of raising teenagers knows they are mentally far from mature at 14, 15, 16, or even 17. They should not be judged for the rest of their lives based on their actions at that age.
  • Grammar... Roger47 2011/11/14 21:21:49
    Grammar Freak
    +1
    But it's exactly that argument that causes me to think that no one raised by a prison system could ever handle the responsibilities of being a free member of society.

    I understand your point & to a certain extent, I agree with you. But on a practical level, I don't think I want someone who's grown up & spent the majority of his/her life behind bars, learning how to handle relationships & daily situations by interacting with fellow prisoners & prison employees, walking around my neighborhood. I don't think it's fair to him/her or to the rest of society. The person would certainly have no practical social skills to deal with life "on the outside."

    That being said, I do think that minimum security prisons, or even, in some cases, half-way houses might be used. But walking around on parole? I don't know... just doesn't sound like a good idea to me.
  • Nathan ... Roger47 2011/11/17 02:40:47
    Nathan Gallup
    +1
    if they kill someone they should be judged for their actions, they must take responsibility
  • Roger47 Nathan ... 2011/11/17 06:30:40
    Roger47
    Yes, and be locked up for a long time. Just not forever.
  • Nathan ... Roger47 2011/11/17 23:18:03
    Nathan Gallup
    how long is a long time,

    in my opinion 40+ years for first degree murder seems right, 60+ if it was a family member, or if it was completely unwarranted
  • jeanne Blue 2011/11/13 20:58:08
    jeanne Blue
    +1
    If you know the brain is not fully mature into adulthood and teens have much to learn about themselves and self-control you need to give them a chance to work it out. We need to be humane in our treatment of children. Spend more on fairness in education and have counseling available. See they have access to healthcare. Give them a purpose and outlets.for their energy and teach compassion and how to deal with bullies. To act instead of react.
  • Grammar... jeanne ... 2011/11/14 21:25:48
    Grammar Freak
    +1
    Just think: 25 years after the kid does the crime, he/she isn't a kid anymore. He/she's an adult who grew up in the prison system. How fair is it to him/her to put him/her out on the street to sort out society & interactions without any experience or skills?
    Prisons truly aren't rehabilitative. They're prisons, meant for punishment.
    It's not an easy or black-&-white decision. But I'm going with the idea that I wouldn't want someone out in my neighborhood after growing up & spending 25 or more years in prison.
    It isn't fair to the convict or to society.
  • El Prez 2011/11/11 22:16:57
    El Prez
    Such a sentence would require a horrible crime. If it is that horrible then the punishment should fit the crime, no matter who the criminal. My only exception would be no government murder of anyone.
  • T 2011/11/11 15:16:58
    T
    +4
    I think it would be a better use of taxpayer money to get these people the psychiatric help they need for a few years than pay for their room and board for the next 60+ years. We need more kids to grow up into contributing members of society. Otherwise social security won't be sustainable 50 years from now.
  • Freedom... T 2011/11/13 20:06:40 (edited)
    FreedomMattersAlot
    +1
    When it comes to juvie murderers, I think it would be a better use to get them psychiatric help like you say, but for at least 10 years. Not just for a few years. For many years, until a panel of -at- -least- 10 Dr.'s ALL agree that they will not be a danger to society if released.

    Then, and ONLY then, release them. And I agree to the extent that I said only for 14 and under.

    For a 15 yr old offender, don't release for at least 15 years, but also get them all the same kind of help and panel agreement release criteria.

    For a 16 yr old, don't release for at least 20 years, but also get them all same kind of help and panel agreement release criteria.

    For a 17 yr olds murderer, don't release for at least 30 years, but also get them all the same kind of help and panel agreement release criteria.

    If that's how it worked, then violent youth who are in a bad life situation but have not yet murdered anyone would KNOW for sure, they will face a LONG time locked up, FOR SURE, without thinking they'll go play in juvie and then just get off.

    It would be way better all way around the board.
  • T Freedom... 2011/11/15 22:59:06
    T
    I'd vote for that.
  • Mike W 2011/11/11 09:32:04 (edited)
    Mike W
    +3
    Yes, If you look at this on a case by case basis judging some of these animals on an age basis does not take into account how street smart or criminally mature and capable they are. You may look at thier birth certificate and see a poor deprived 15 or 16 year old kid. BUT if you look at their criminal record, you will see a criminally mature individual who knew from experience what they were doing, what their actions would do to others AND how to play the poor deprived misunderstood victim of circumstances child insread of the brutal semi evil predaters they are when they are caught and should be held accountable for what crimes they have commited.
  • Freedom... Mike W 2011/11/13 20:10:50 (edited)
    FreedomMattersAlot
    they're animals, sure, but animals with immature brains. they -have- -got- to know, on a very simple level, that they will be facing a -long- time locked up, no matter what happens. and they don't think that now. they think, i'm getting off, and i can just go do this horrible stuff and then go home (pretty quick).

    that's the -biggest- reason the way things are with how the juvie murderers are handled has -got- to change. i'm not saying it has to change how i think it should, but it has got to change more than it has in any event.

    and clearly, changed nationwide, not just certain states, or even worse, certain municipalities handling it so radically different from others. that contributes, severely, to a violent kid thinking they're gonna get away with it.
  • Steve R... Freedom... 2011/12/06 17:07:34
    Steve Rogers
    They think that way because that is how the liberal hanky handing system has treated them for years. The only way for a juvinile to get a life sentence is to commit a horrific crime and have an extensive record. First time offenders who commit a horrific crime will get lengthy sentences, but not life, unless the first offense is so horrific as to lead the system to believe they are and will continue to be a danger to the public
  • mamacrash 2011/11/11 07:54:10
    mamacrash
    +3
    If we catch the children and give them good mental help they might be saved. If after all medical help is not working then maybe a life sentence is appropriate if the crime is that horrendous. But I am also a person who believes that if a drunk kills they should be charged as a murder not just manslaughter.
  • ShortyDoWop 2011/11/11 07:27:47
    ShortyDoWop
    +2
    depending on the severity of the crime... mass murder, of course!
  • marcie 2011/11/11 04:32:00
    marcie
    +3
    Teens younger than 14 have committed horrible murders. If I remember correctly, several years ago two 10 yr olds tortured a 2-4 yr old boy to death out near some railroad tracks maybe. it has been a long time but it was a horrific crime and kids that age should know the basics of right from wrong. Kids like that will go on to do worse things if they are ever released so if the crime fits, they should get an adult sentence. I found the story and they will be released.

    Three-year-old Jamie Bulger was killed in 1993 by two young boys who tortured Jamie, rubbed paint in his eyes, pushed batteries up his anus, then left him on train tracks. Both of the boys were juveniles at the time and, according to the story, are about to be released. A judge has granted new identities to them for their release. The email encourages petition-like emails be sent to the judge, Lady Justice Butler-Sloss, protesting the decision because the boys have not paid for their crime.


    The Truth:
    (7/1/01) The story is true, but the decision the petition was hoping to affect has already been made, so the petition is now out of date.

    The murder of Jamie Bulger infuriated citizens all over England. According to an article in the London Times at the time of their conviction, Robert Thompson and...

    Teens younger than 14 have committed horrible murders. If I remember correctly, several years ago two 10 yr olds tortured a 2-4 yr old boy to death out near some railroad tracks maybe. it has been a long time but it was a horrific crime and kids that age should know the basics of right from wrong. Kids like that will go on to do worse things if they are ever released so if the crime fits, they should get an adult sentence. I found the story and they will be released.

    Three-year-old Jamie Bulger was killed in 1993 by two young boys who tortured Jamie, rubbed paint in his eyes, pushed batteries up his anus, then left him on train tracks. Both of the boys were juveniles at the time and, according to the story, are about to be released. A judge has granted new identities to them for their release. The email encourages petition-like emails be sent to the judge, Lady Justice Butler-Sloss, protesting the decision because the boys have not paid for their crime.


    The Truth:
    (7/1/01) The story is true, but the decision the petition was hoping to affect has already been made, so the petition is now out of date.

    The murder of Jamie Bulger infuriated citizens all over England. According to an article in the London Times at the time of their conviction, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables were ten years old when they killed little Jamie. Police say they lured Jamie from his mother while on a shopping trip, marched him more than two miles away where he was then beaten and stoned to death and his body left on the train tracks to make it appear that he had died by being hit by a train. The reference to the batteries in the email story is slightly incorrect. There was no anal penetration and the batteries were found in Jamie's mouth.

    Thompson and Veneables have been in custody and going through rehabilitation ever since and because of their ages at the time of the killing, they were not tried as adults and are eligible for release. At the end of June, the way was cleared by authorities for them to be released. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss says that the boys are in too much danger if people know who they are so she has issued a judgment that grants them new identities and prevents the British media from disclosing who or where they are. TruthOrFiction.com has obtained a copy of her ruling.
    (more)
  • marcie 2012/02/28 19:58:07 (edited)
    The two were put on life parole. Shortly before his release, Veneables was having sex with a female prison guard at age 17, the guard was fired, he was then sentenced to 2 years in 2003 for downloading child porn. Veneables is currently serving a life sentence for unspecified reasons that he may be a threat to society. Thompson is crime free to date. Any kid who can lure his guard in for sex can certainly get an insecure submissive friend to go along with anything.
  • Atmara 2011/11/11 03:58:38
    Atmara
    +3
    I think assistant football coaches who rape kids in the shower should get life without parole.
  • marcie Atmara 2011/11/11 04:33:10
    marcie
    +1
    So do I but why should we pay to feed and house them for the rest of their lives. Try them and fry them!
  • Atmara marcie 2011/11/11 04:54:57
    Atmara
    +3
    Sorry, u so right! Zap em
  • marcie Atmara 2011/11/11 08:33:11
  • Tree To... marcie 2011/11/11 19:43:47
    Tree Top TT
    +1
    Well said. That has a nice ryme!
  • marcie Tree To... 2011/11/12 02:45:34
    marcie
    +1
    Yeah,lol. I like that one!
  • Stan We... Atmara 2011/11/11 07:22:21
    Stan Weinstein
    +3
    Monsters who molest innocent children should get life in the electric chair!!!
  • stowles Atmara 2012/01/01 21:53:20
    stowles
    I think assistant football coaches who rape kids should be put to death
  • Atmara 2012/02/28 20:59:32
    Just assistant coaches ? Would if the rape is somewhere other than the shower?
  • Atmara 2012/02/28 21:55:16
    Atmara
    Castration and then death
  • DeborahLakeHelen 2011/11/11 03:47:00
    DeborahLakeHelen
    +4
    There are plenty of teenagers who have been in trouble for most of their lives that finally graduate into committing heinous, sadistic and unthinkable crimes. By the time they're 11 or 12 they know what they're doing, and by 14 and up they not only know what they're doing, they're proud of it. Violent offenders have no place in our society. They need to go and live with the rest of the incarcerated scum that they want so badly to be like.
  • marcie Deborah... 2011/11/11 04:33:44
    marcie
    +2
    I agree!!!
  • Freedom... Deborah... 2011/11/13 20:19:57
    FreedomMattersAlot
    +1
    hm. "in trouble for most of their lives".. well, if they've got a record of violent crime, then yes, i'd say murder is the END of the record, has got to be the end,

    automatically, life with no parole, no matter what.

    but with no record, YES lock them up for a LONG time, but try to rehabilitate them real hard, don't just say its hopeless to a child, because yes, they are children. some of them children who have done a horrible horrible evil evil act, but still children.

    but, for further clarity, i do -NOT- refer to those with a history of violent crime.
  • Deborah... Freedom... 2011/12/02 01:42:55
    DeborahLakeHelen
    I couldn't agree with you more.
  • Jeh 2011/11/11 02:05:06
  • Deborah... Jeh 2011/11/12 20:23:07
    DeborahLakeHelen
    EXACTLY right! lmlao
  • Pale Horse 2011/11/10 23:23:20
    Pale Horse
    +3
    Hook em up to "Old Sparky".
  • Hector mozo 2011/11/10 23:00:50
    Hector mozo
    +3
    They should we all make "misteaks" but depends how severe they are.

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