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Assessment Of Life Without Parole For A Juvenile

It is a known fact all over the world that children are different. In the case of Roper v. Simmons, the court was divided in a 5-4 ruling that decided that giving the death sentence to juveniles who have committed murder violates the Eighth Amendment’s proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. The reasoning behind this decision was the fact that juveniles were less culpable, less mature, and less responsible than adults. Looking at this from a moral perspective, it could be a misguided attempt to associate the failings of a minor with those of an adult because this could lead to a greater possibility that the minor’s character deficiency could be reformed, unlike many adults. Many believe differently in the fact that minors should be tried as an adult, depending on the crime itself. Legislatures across the country have enacted the slogan, “adult crimes, “adult time”. Also along with this statute, automatic waiver laws have been provided for the reassignment of many minors from juvenile court to adult criminal court. What this means for the juveniles is increased time in jail and maybe even life without parole for all who have committed violent felonies. This month the court returns to this matter by investigating what has been termed the penultimate penalty for juveniles which is life without parole. Recently, in both Florida cases, Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida, the court still has to decide wether or not Roper’s analysis – that juvenile defendants are basically different from adult defendants- extends from the death penalty to life without parole. Arguments for this case are to begin on November 9, 2009. In all the cases, there is a tremendous amount at stake when you consider that life in prison without the possibility of parole is almost equivalent to some as a death sentence itself. This decision gives the juvenile no hope or relief that they may ever get out of prison.

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