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
    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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  • Zion21 2011/11/09 20:30:23
    It obviously depends on the crime. Even juvies know the difference between extreme right and wrong.

  • GLaDOS 2011/11/09 20:30:22
    Teenagers should know that murder is something that "bad" people do. By the time you're that age, you should know this. - .- As that, they should pay for it, just like any adult should. At that age, they're less likely to feel remorse, so they need to pay for it somehow.
  • Howard J Peters OD 2011/11/09 20:24:56
    Howard J Peters OD
    If juvenile, if they have killed they should get life meaning life! [No parole]

    If adult when committing these crimes I think that they should suffer the same punishment as they inflicted on killing their victims!
  • intolerantrwj 2011/11/09 20:23:59
    .... case by case imho .... but it is called Justice for a reason you know.

    Permitting young and incorrigible to have no fear is senseless.
  • lonewolf 2011/11/09 20:23:32
    yes we all learn at an early age the Difference between right and wrong. so if you do an adult crime then you should do adult time. simple as that
  • Tommy 2011/11/09 20:17:23
    If your so stupid and you make the wrong choices then you should have to pay the piper. I believe if your older than 10 years old, you should know right from wrong. Your parents should have been teaching you this from 5 or 6 years old. You know and you still do it. Then your as guilty as hell in my books.
  • Billyk75 2011/11/09 20:12:11
    Put em away and throw away the key.
  • stevegtexas@aol.com 2011/11/09 20:10:54 (edited)
  • uninfor... stevegt... 2011/11/10 05:08:26 (edited)
    You cannot put all of the blame on parents. I agree that there are a lot of bad parents around but even good parents are hamstrung by ridiculous laws. One foster carer said about the riots in England that he tried to stop the teenage girl going out to a riot but she went anyway. he said that if he had laid a hand on her he may have ended up in gaol for assault and if he locked her in the house he could have been charged with a mulitude of deprivation of liberty type crimes.
  • RichFromShowMe 2011/11/09 20:07:03
    If you can't do the time . . . . don't do the time. Studies of repeat offenders show that the only way to put a stop to crime is to get the criminal off the street.
  • tebearc... RichFro... 2011/11/09 20:20:09
  • Chief 2011/11/09 20:05:05
    It just gets me the the "Christian" conservatives are the least compassionate people.
  • GLaDOS Chief 2011/11/09 20:26:39
    "Eye for an Eye," don't forget that part of the good book.
  • wilsonmja GLaDOS 2011/11/09 20:31:32
    What about turn the other cheek? I actually support putting them away for life if they murder in cold blood, but I always like to take an opportunity to point out biblical inconsistencies.
  • GLaDOS wilsonmja 2011/11/09 20:43:38 (edited)
    I'm pretty sure that they were saying that murderers and violent rapists should be put away for life or death. Turn the other cheek doesn't work when they break one of the commandments.

    Trust me, I enjoy pointing out the inconsistencies, too. But, there are some things that are just wrong.
  • wilsonmja GLaDOS 2011/11/09 20:58:45
    Well, I would agree that in this case, these people do not belong in society. There is a greater good that outweighs any compassion I have for their circumstances.
  • GLaDOS wilsonmja 2011/11/10 11:48:56
  • JayLynx GLaDOS 2011/11/10 03:19:17
    on biblical bases, don't forget JC said "love each other"
  • GLaDOS JayLynx 2011/11/10 11:48:18 (edited)
    I'd say that people who kill their lover in a crime of passion, because they caught them cheating, or a mother smothering her children, because for some reason they believe it's kinder for them to be dead than living, still love the people they killed.

    It's twisted logic, but I'm sure that someone loves every murderer out there. Additionally, anyone who is given the death sentence is probably done so because the person who sentenced them may have "loved" the general population (or the Law) enough to desire to see its safety override the life of one person.

    Love is madness.
  • wilsonmja Chief 2011/11/09 20:33:05
    I'm not a Christian or a conservative, but when somebody had taken another persons life, do you really believe they deserve any kind of compassion?
  • Prime Time Lime 2011/11/09 20:03:57
    Prime Time Lime
    No,they should get help and the sentences should not go past the juvenile sentence and released at 18 years old.
  • wilsonmja Prime T... 2011/11/09 20:34:09
    So if I'm 17 and 364 days old and I go I a killing spree, I should be released from jail the next day with a clean slate?
  • Jen wilsonmja 2011/11/09 23:17:06
    You an I both know that would never happen. If at 17 and 364 days you went on a killing spree you would be charged and tried as an adult. Most juveniles 16+ that commit crimes of a severe nature ie. murder, rape etc, ARE tried as adults. I know Texas likes to murder them young. 17 is the age in Texas where you can be sentenced to death. What an awful sentencing! :( They may look like adults but they're still babies! :(
  • LisaSmith Jen 2011/11/10 03:05:33
    Babies???...They killed someone. I bet their victim didn't think they were still a baby, I bet the victim probably felt they were a monster for taking their life away. Oh well.... we will never know what the victims last thought was because they are dead. I feel sorry for the victims of the crime. Hang the murderers.
  • wilsonmja Jen 2011/11/10 18:31:03
    They are murderers. They cannot be placed back into society.
  • Judog10 2011/11/09 19:53:42
  • Golden Panther 2011/11/09 19:48:50
    Golden Panther
    Hell yes, before they kill someone else or do whatever they did to get arrested, charged, tried and convicted. Good riddance to bad trash.
  • Omni 2011/11/09 19:48:21 (edited)
    We live in a society where we only look at the big picture and not the details. We never factor in that they're teenagers, and thus have an undeveloped frontal cortex. Nor do we ever factor in the years of abuse they could have endured or the circumstances surrounding the murder (they could have retaliated from years of abuse). Thirteen to seventeen year-olds are not adults; they don't always have the option to just up and leave a situation (in regards to abusive parents), nor do they have the brain capabilities to make decisions on par with their adult counterparts. The conclusion from the poll doesn't surprise me; rather, it's disappointing.
  • Steve R... Omni 2011/11/09 20:17:09
    Steve Rogers
    How about the factor that a first offense, even one such as murder would not get this kind of sentencing range. The offender would have to have quite the history for the judge to impose, or for the offender to qualify for, such a sentence. We do not take abuse into consideration for adult cases, so why should it factor into juvenile cases? Kids don't have the option to leave? There are so many things in place as to make this statement almost comical. Report to a teacher, youth leader, what ever. The state foster system may not be the best, but it would generally be better than an abusive home, if in fact there is abuse going on. Recently, there have been, at least in my neck of the woods, cases where the kids cry wolf, so to speak and come to find out, the parents would not allow them what they wanted. The parents are dragged through the system, and publically tried by the press. If, in fact teens could not make decisions on par with their adult counterparts, wouldn't that mean we would see more of these incidents? NO, it is a cop out. Teens and young adults know right from wrong and know the possible punishments for their choices. What they are relying on the the system to slap the back of their hand and call it good.
  • Omni Steve R... 2011/11/09 21:31:45 (edited)
  • uninfor... Omni 2011/11/10 05:18:30
    If you are going to make a claim like that support it with some evidence. Othewise it just appears to be emotional hyperbole.
  • Omni uninfor... 2011/11/10 13:11:00 (edited)
  • uninfor... Omni 2011/11/11 02:55:16
    Why are you citing 'International Law'? Are you a globalist? I know that's off-topic but I am interested as your answer tells me a bit more about where you are coming from. I am definitely not acting like the US justice system is perfect it is far from it. It disgusts me mostly but that's not the question here. I have not advocated here for this sort of sentencing to be increased but I support its use as do I also support the death penalty for certain juveniles. I am angered by the fact that the bleeding hearts tend to always fall back on the broken-home, abuse, hard life excuses for heinous crimes as if little Johnny copping beatings partly excuses his behaviour. I would probably enjoy having a deeper discussion with you as you sound a little interesting but I think you would view me as repugnant. I assure you though that I have experience in the area of serious juvenile crime and that it is (at least here) woeful under reported.
  • uninfor... Steve R... 2011/11/10 05:17:15
    I know that in my neck of the woods the number of male teachers has dropped incredibly over the last twenty years. Predominantly due to the fact that disciplining a student can end up in charges for abuse. This is not uncommon. I know of one teacher who video tapes every lesson he gives and that saved his arse from an accusation of sexual assault made by a student unhappy with her marks/performance grading. Like you say the kids know what they can get away with and they milk it like it's a blue ribbon dairy cow.
  • wilsonmja Omni 2011/11/09 20:37:03
    I'm less worried about these broken people than I am their potential future victims if we just let them go. They clearly are sociopaths and cannot function in society. We cannot afford to risk lives in the name of compassion and forgiveness. There is a greater good at stake.
  • Omni wilsonmja 2011/11/09 21:32:29
    "They?" Specify "they." I spoke of more than just sociopaths.
  • uninfor... Omni 2011/11/10 05:13:50
    Let's all hold hands, have a little cry, and quash their sentences as they are just kiddies and they don't know any better. How could poor little Jimmy, Johnny, Richard, sarah, and carolyn know that kidnapping that twenty something couple raping and torturing them for days before brutally killing the man with a claw hammer and allowing the girl to die of blood loss after they slashed her breasts off with a dull knife was a crime. Have pity they just children(and they had a hard upbringing). Lord have mercy on those innocent slightly misguided chuildren.
  • Omni uninfor... 2011/11/10 13:14:17
    Are you trying to convey your point through a narrative? Haha. That's the most retarded style of conveyance I've ever seen, which I guess would make sense since you're a moron. Did you just decide to hop on this train of hate after seeing my initial post? Do you friggin read anything first!? I WAS NEVER ARGUING ABOUT SOCIOPATHS!
  • Ben-Jamin Tomlinson 2011/11/09 19:43:20
    Ben-Jamin Tomlinson
    I personally believe throwing teenagers in prison only guarantees the fact that they will never be out of a life of crime. So I would only do it if there is 0% chance they can change. and that would really only be with teenage serial rapists or murderers.
  • wilsonmja Ben-Jam... 2011/11/09 20:38:02
    Great. Awesome...so...what's your solution?

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