Recognizing Juveniles’ Potential for Rehabilitation

Posted on: March 27th, 2013  |  No Comments

Ethan Bronner of The New York Times reported that the United States Supreme Court barred life sentences for juveniles convicted of murder in the sharpest indication to date of a shift in how the American judicial system views young felons — from irredeemable predators to victims of circumstance with a potential for rehabilitation.

What we are seeing is a very stark and important rethinking of how we treat juvenile criminal offenders. For years we were trying to convince the courts that kids have constitutional rights just like adults. Now we realize that to ensure that kids are protected, we have to recognize that they are actually different from adults.

Marsha Levick, Co-Founder of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia

That sense of difference has fueled the Supreme Court decisions of the past seven years — first a ruling that barred the death penalty for juveniles in 2005; one that banned life in prison for juveniles convicted of crimes other than homicide in 2010; and this most recent ruling rendered invalid state laws requiring youths convicted of homicide as well to die in prison. That decision will lead to resentencing hearings for about 2,000 convicts — some of them now well into middle age — in more than two dozen states.

via The New York Times

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