Juvenile Life Without Parole

Sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole is excessive because young people are malleable and capable of transforming as they age, and modern neuroscience research shows that juvenile brains are not fully developed, and therefore young people do not think the same way that adults do. Juveniles lack foresight in moments wrought with strong emotional stimuli, which leads to impulsive decision-making. These deficits reduce the moral culpability of juveniles, which is why the U.S. Supreme Court held that juvenile life without parole for non-homicide offenses is unconstitutional. For the same reason, the Court has held that mandatory juvenile life without parole sentences are a cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment for homicide crimes. Indeed, the Court indicated that the punishment should only be used in extremely rare cases when the juvenile is deemed to be “irreparably corrupted.”