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Should Teens Be Able to Get Life Without Parole?

News 2011/11/07 19:55:44
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According to The Associated Press, there are currently around six dozen people serving life sentences (without chance of parole) for crimes they committed when they were 13 or 14 years old. However, the Supreme Court decided on Monday that it would look into the practice to determine whether juveniles should be able to receive such a harsh punishment.

Juvenile sentencing has witnessed two important reforms in the last decade: In 2005, it was decided that people under the age of 18 could not receive the death penalty; last year the courts took life without parole off the table, as well, as long as the convicted juvenile did no kill anyone. The court's most recent proposal would offer these criminals a chance at freedom, even if they're guilty of murder.

To make the decision, the Supreme Court is looking at the cases of Kuntrell Jackson, an Arkansas man who was convicted of shooting a store clerk to death in 1999, and Evan Miller, who burned down a neighbor's home (killing the neighbor) after the neighbor reportedly attacked him. Both men were 14 when they were convicted, and both face life sentences without chance of parole.

Bryan Stevenson, Miller's lawyer, said, "The identical analysis which led to the results in those cases logically compels the conclusion that consigning a 14-year-old to die in prison through a life-without-parole sentence categorically violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments." (The Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments address "cruel and unusual punishment" and equal protection.)

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Top Opinion

  • William Weber 2011/11/08 01:20:30 (edited)
    No
    William Weber
    +24
    What many do not seem to understand,mainly the ADULTS on sodahead is that teens still,for the most part,have a mind of a child,or just one step above that.Teens dont think as rationally as you would want to think.

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  • Lana 2012/02/27 00:35:32
    Yes
    Lana
    Absolutely, A particularly heinous crime committed by a teen should never be justified and let off easy just because they may be just a few short months or years away from 18. They key form of your personality is formed by the age of 7. If your a violent criminal at the teenage level, society has every right to be protected from them. It's not a matter of punishing the guilty. It's a matter of protecting the innocent civillian population. I'm sick and tired of the capture and release policies of our legal system and the harm it does to the innocenct and vulnerable among us.
  • Mr_Rachett 2012/02/11 17:00:14
    No
    Mr_Rachett
    "A life without parole sentence improperly denies the juvenile offender a chance to demonstrate growth and maturity," Kennedy wrote for the majority in the decision that found life without parole disproportionally harsh. U.S. supreme Justice quoted this shortly after voting against juvenile life without parole, even though he primarily votes with the liberals.. he is more knowledgeable than most and he realizes the unconstitutional affect of the punishment.
  • alanh 2012/01/29 04:20:44
    Yes
    alanh
    depending on the crime and there age!
  • jay burge 2012/01/01 19:50:22
    Yes
    jay burge
    Yes I see it now. Those Manson girls ,at the time they went on their killing spree, were not mentally adjusted being so young and all. But we all know that by the time they had spent most of their life in prison they were really sorry. And now much older had morally become good. They were not the same people as they were when they were killing. The only criteria I see is did they know the difference between right and wrong. By the time these people are teens, they know the difference.......
  • Yeahabo... jay burge 2012/01/05 04:18:50
    Yeahaboutthatthough
    True. But not all of them spent their entire lives in prison.
  • Michael Cavalier 2011/11/22 02:55:25
    Yes
    Michael Cavalier
    It is neither cruel nor unusual to require a person to serve their full sentence, without regard to their age. Too many teens get away with heinous crimes, only to be let out and have their crimes erased in many states when they turn legal age. I've heard of sweet milk going sour, but never the other way around. If what they did would put an adult in prison "for life, without parole" why is their life worth any more than the adult who did the same crime just because they were younger? Answer: It isn't.
  • milfried 2011/11/15 16:08:10
    Yes
    milfried
    +1
    If the crime is particularly bad or they are deemed a sociopath or psychopath.. two particularly dangerous categories of criminals that cannot be rehabbed.
  • thksfrthmmrs 2011/11/14 22:18:26
    No
    thksfrthmmrs
    Are they sentencing them to death too? As a teen I find that to be a quite harsh but it depends on the crime and whether they are mentally unstable or psychologically screwed in the head.Otherwise.....give them a chance to redeem themselves as they have (had) their whole lives ahead of them.
  • Vegas Dude 2011/11/14 14:32:29
    Yes
    Vegas Dude
    If the punnishment fits the crime, then absolutely! Too many children are let off with a slap on the wrist when it comes to violent crime. These kids know what they're doing. And in many cases, they know that once they reach 18, their records are sealed and they're let loose on society, only to commit more vilent crime. It's time the judicial system sent a message.
  • Seeker62 2011/11/10 20:44:20
    No
    Seeker62
    Nope that would be cruel and unusual. But, they should be able to get death for the most heinous of "adult" crimes.
  • twhiting9275 2011/11/10 05:35:56
    Yes
    twhiting9275
    ABSOLUTELY
    Of course, this all depends on the crime they are charged with.
  • Chuck 2011/11/10 05:22:24
    No
    Chuck
    WE adults should be able to make up our minds as to what constitutes adulthood. If 18 is the correct age then 18 is exactly what it should be, not at the discretion of the prosecutor or judge or the nature of the crime, etc. To say an 18 year old cannot drink alcohol but is old enough to kill our enemies, is absolute insanity, in my opinion. To say a 14 or 16 year old is old enough to be put to death for murder even when that child is not even old enough to smoke is also insane. There is no way that a prosecutor should have the authority to decide that a child should be treated as an adult JUST because of the nature of his/her crime. I knew of a particular young man at the age of 14 and the son of a preacher, that hung his younger brother upside down by his feet, and then proceeded to burn him with cigarettes (along with his buddies) until the young boy finally died, and then all the boys merely turned and walked away, leaving the dead boy hanging there while they laughed and played on their way back home. All the boys stayed in juvenile detention until they were 21 and then released. The 21 year old brother turned out to be a sexual deviate and was arrested several times for sexual advances toward women and raping young boys. This boy was erroneously released simpl...
    WE adults should be able to make up our minds as to what constitutes adulthood. If 18 is the correct age then 18 is exactly what it should be, not at the discretion of the prosecutor or judge or the nature of the crime, etc. To say an 18 year old cannot drink alcohol but is old enough to kill our enemies, is absolute insanity, in my opinion. To say a 14 or 16 year old is old enough to be put to death for murder even when that child is not even old enough to smoke is also insane. There is no way that a prosecutor should have the authority to decide that a child should be treated as an adult JUST because of the nature of his/her crime. I knew of a particular young man at the age of 14 and the son of a preacher, that hung his younger brother upside down by his feet, and then proceeded to burn him with cigarettes (along with his buddies) until the young boy finally died, and then all the boys merely turned and walked away, leaving the dead boy hanging there while they laughed and played on their way back home. All the boys stayed in juvenile detention until they were 21 and then released. The 21 year old brother turned out to be a sexual deviate and was arrested several times for sexual advances toward women and raping young boys. This boy was erroneously released simply because he turned 21 years of age, but was a long way from being cured, or even having the right treatment. He should NOT have been given life in prison which he wasn't but at the same time he should NOT have been released just because he turned
    21, but he was. Our screwed up laws is a good example of our own screwed up way of thinking. We have laws that are stupid in that they are literally unenforceable, or if they are enforced, they violate the individuals constitutional rights etc. We have a law here in Georgia, and other States probably has something similar, that says sex perverts must stay away from children and never come within 1000 feet of them. Where in the hell is there any common sense to this? Children are every where ! These sickos can't go to the grocery store, can't go to church, can't go to work, and in fact cannot really go any where for fear of running into kids along the way. That is only, of course, IF they are trying to be good little boys and obeying the law. But why should we expect them to obey such a law as the 1000 foot rule, if they didn't obey the rule that says you cannot violate little boys period.!? Can you just imagine a bunch of kids go bicycling through a neighborhood full of perverts, and they go scattering likes rats leaving a sinking ship. haha that would be funny. Anyway, Lawyers make the laws, Lawyers, defend those who violate them, and they are all made to where it is easy to violate them.
    (more)
  • flyingseaturtle BN 2011/11/09 23:52:47
    Yes
    flyingseaturtle BN
    +1
    If the crime is severe enough.
  • #Justice4Trayvon 629 BLOCKT... 2011/11/09 23:47:36
    No
    #Justice4Trayvon 629 BLOCKT CONS
    +1
    Teenage brains are NOT the same as adult brains. Yes, teenage killers should do time but to sentence them to life without the possibility of parole is cruel & unusual punishment in my book.
  • Jen 2011/11/09 23:20:07
    No
    Jen
    +1
    They may look like adults, but mentally they're still babies. I HATE when someone younger than I dies. It's one of the saddest things in life. If anything they should be rehabilitated and sent to college so they can learn WHY what they did was wrong and become productive members of society.
  • Torchmanner ~PWCM~JLA 2011/11/09 23:13:47
    Yes
    Torchmanner ~PWCM~JLA
    +1
    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

    Actually I support the death penalty for ANY murderer no matter what the age.

    Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
  • Stryder 2011/11/09 21:48:21
    Yes
    Stryder
    +1
    Psychotic is psychotic no matter what the age.
  • Experience 2011/11/09 21:45:29
    Yes
    Experience
    +1
    It depends on the severity of the crime.
  • Boss 2011/11/09 21:16:31
    Yes
    Boss
    depends on the severity of the crime(s)....depends on the age also....BUT...sentences should be fair...so often you read about youths getting life for a certain crime and in another state getting off for even worse...ditto for adults...
  • merlinskiss 2011/11/09 21:02:15 (edited)
    No
    merlinskiss
    I say no but each case is different. A life sentence though is big bucks for the taxpayers to pay and mucho profit for the security corporations running the prisons so, maybe the death penalty is the better option???
  • #Justic... merlins... 2011/11/09 23:50:28
    #Justice4Trayvon 629 BLOCKT CONS
    +1
    Actually it costs less to incarcerate a person for life than the costs of a death penalty case. Death penalty cases are multiplied millions of dollars for just one case.
  • merlins... #Justic... 2011/11/10 01:11:28
    merlinskiss
    Inflation has raised the price of a bullet to .50 cents...
  • #Justic... merlins... 2011/11/10 03:07:12
    #Justice4Trayvon 629 BLOCKT CONS
    I'll hafta take your word for it. Don't own a gun, never will & therefore, wouldn't know how much bullets cost.
  • brunyon 2011/11/09 20:48:26
    Yes
    brunyon
    +1
    and beatings
  • hannah 2011/11/09 20:28:59
    Yes
    hannah
    +1
    well it really depends on how bad the crime is, but if they burn down three houses on their street or they kill their parents or someone else, they should most definitely get life without the chance of parole.
  • jst2swtnsassy 2011/11/09 20:24:00
    Yes
    jst2swtnsassy
    +1
    It is appalling at how flagrant and desensitized these young ones have become towards crime, heinous acts that once were thought of being committed by adults, and yet they are murderers, pedophiles, gang rapists and the like. Acts that were once thought of as the unthinkable crimes, have become everyday news and these kids (and they truly are just little kids) are following examples and footsteps of individuals who knowingly committed such crimes. Not that they don't know right from wrong, especially when they are crimes such as these, but they brutally execute them with no remorse and have become desensitized. I know nobody wants to admit it, but the violent and brutal video games, music, movies that glorify brutal murders and dismembering along with the rise of domestic and child abuse, broken homes, the broken foster care system and the ultimate decline in family morals and values, contributes to all the things leading up to acts that will eventually be acted out upon. Sadly, I have to agree that the punishment should fit the crime and even if they are only 14 they had knowledge of the consequences of such an action, and it's not like there isn't enough information to make better decisions. I do feel for the families of both the perpetrator and the victims, because nobo...
    It is appalling at how flagrant and desensitized these young ones have become towards crime, heinous acts that once were thought of being committed by adults, and yet they are murderers, pedophiles, gang rapists and the like. Acts that were once thought of as the unthinkable crimes, have become everyday news and these kids (and they truly are just little kids) are following examples and footsteps of individuals who knowingly committed such crimes. Not that they don't know right from wrong, especially when they are crimes such as these, but they brutally execute them with no remorse and have become desensitized. I know nobody wants to admit it, but the violent and brutal video games, music, movies that glorify brutal murders and dismembering along with the rise of domestic and child abuse, broken homes, the broken foster care system and the ultimate decline in family morals and values, contributes to all the things leading up to acts that will eventually be acted out upon. Sadly, I have to agree that the punishment should fit the crime and even if they are only 14 they had knowledge of the consequences of such an action, and it's not like there isn't enough information to make better decisions. I do feel for the families of both the perpetrator and the victims, because nobody wins when something like that happens, but they should pay the price for their actions-kind of like when you go to the store and you break something-you are responsible for paying for it. Accountability and responsibility are lacking in the values and morals of many today, the reality of their actions may not be storybook endings, but they will have to pay to society what they owe. There are to sayings that I grew up hearing, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime." And "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." Basically referring to ones inability to hold up under pressure and be able to navigate correctly ones actions, and being able to own up to ones actions and take what ever consequence comes your way. number of teens who commit crimes number of teens who commit crimes
    (more)
  • Jada 2011/11/09 19:52:04
    Yes
    Jada
    +1
    Everyone, from the day they are born, knows right from wrong. If they don't, there is a mental problem and they should be institutionalized if they are violent. Unfortunately, the states claim that they don't have the money to keep these institutions open. Therefore, the criminals end up on the street to do more harm to innocent people. Why anyone would feel sorry for criminals is beyond me. Do liberals really have a soul? No, not if they feel more compassion for a criminal than an innocent.
  • Suzie Astridge 2011/11/09 19:38:15
  • MegaFortunateSon 2011/11/09 19:10:41
    No
    MegaFortunateSon
  • Soojin 2011/11/09 19:04:52
    No
    Soojin
    +2
    I made a lot of mistakes as a teen that I understand a lot better now. Nothing horrible, but a lot of things I wouldn't do again.

    Teens who do horrible things should be punished for what they've done, but once they grow up, they deserve a second chance.
  • abycinnamon BN-1 2011/11/09 18:29:19 (edited)
    Yes
    abycinnamon BN-1
    If the crime warrants it - if there is reason to believe that they will be a threat to society and will be dangerous if released - absolutely. But the sentence must be given mindfully as the top opinion writer says - the teen's mind isn't fully developed. But I do think that one can be a sociopath as a teen even if the psychiatrists don't agree. For instance if they have a history of animal torture/killing and then they kill a person I think a life sentence with no parole is probably a good idea.
  • jerry 2011/11/09 18:12:38
    Yes
    jerry
    It must be a brutal crime, full consent of the will, pre meditated.....however,

    notice how the focus is almost entirely on the criminal and their well-being....and nothing is being mentioned about the victim's ultimate loss of life, and the family's horrific loss of a loved ones. Seems like we should talk about victims at least as much as murderers.
  • Frank 2011/11/09 18:00:56
    Yes
    Frank
    I picked yes because there was not an undicided. Having said that, it would depend on the crime the teen committed, and why they commmitted the crime, and their background.
  • kraftymomma1979 2011/11/09 17:57:37
    Yes
    kraftymomma1979
    Yes, but in rare cases. That should not be the norm. A person who commits a heinous crime is changed by his/her actions alone. School shooters are an example.
  • Bibliophilic 2011/11/09 17:37:24 (edited)
    No
    Bibliophilic
    +1
    No, children should not be sent to jail for life. Many young criminals who commit heinous crimes should probably be institutionalized though, not thrown the wolves. Children are not responsible for the households they are brought into and the world around them- why punish them for life? Unlike many adults, children can be rehabilitated. Yes, teenagers are children. I pity any child that is sent to jail for life. Even if they were worthy of redemption before- after years in prison their chance at a happy and respectable life is greatly diminished.

    The truth of the matter is that using prison as punishment makes it a breeding ground for new and improved criminal behavior. The twisted and backward notion that prison is for punishment ensures that more uber-criminals will be released into the world. We need to focus on this! Most of the time prison is not for life. Most criminals WILL get out of jail at some point- many murderers, rapists and child molesters will be coming to a neighborhood near you. Do you want them to be better or worse people than when they were first incarcerated?
  • Lana Bibliop... 2012/02/27 00:48:14
    Lana
    I do agree with your angle here. Confinment is what I would advocate for severe offenses, to protect future potential victims. Nuture should be a facter to consider in determining the outcome of the offenders fate and what potential impact they may play for their own redemption. For example, cyber bulying- Florida teen sentenced to 25 years in prison gives speeches to high school students to warn of the risks. In doing so she is making a very powerful statement that may actually reach these kids and have a lasting impact.
  • golem48 2011/11/09 17:07:42
    Yes
    golem48
    +2
    Heinous crimes deserve heinous sentences..
  • Ray Cyst 2011/11/09 17:01:15
    Yes
    Ray Cyst
    +1
    Teen criminals only grow up to become adult criminals. When you have a leaky roof you don't wait until the roof caves in before you fix the problem.
  • Bibliop... Ray Cyst 2011/11/09 17:50:01
    Bibliophilic
    +1
    You'd rather pay to house people for the rest of their lives instead of at least attempting to rehabilitate them and make them productive members of society? If a kid can't get a second chance- who can?
  • Ray Cyst Bibliop... 2011/11/09 18:52:13
    Ray Cyst
    +2
    I'd rather pay to have those future Timothy McVeigh's locked up for life.

    There is no such thing as rehabilitation.
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