High court looks at life sentences for juveniles

By | November 9, 2009

High court looks at life sentences for juveniles

A seemingly divided Supreme Court wrestled Monday with whether teenagers can be locked away forever for their crimes. The question arose in two cases involving Florida men who are serving life prison terms with no chance of parole for crimes they committed as teenagers. Their lawyers argue that the sentences for people so young are cruel and unusual, in violation of the Constitution, because young people have greater capacity to change.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the Supreme Court opinion four years ago that ruled out the death penalty for people under 18, judging them less responsible than adults. So most eyes were on him Monday as the court considered whether to extend that rationale to life without parole sentences.

But Kennedy offered little hint of his position, at one point suggesting it might be difficult to distinguish between juveniles and adults in cases that do not involve the death penalty.

“Why does a juvenile have a constitutional right to hope, but an adult does not?” he asked.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg provided a possible answer, wondering whether teenagers can be accurately evaluated at the time they are sentenced. It may be possible that only after some years have passed that the state can determine, “Has this person overcome those youthful disabilities?” she said.

On the other side of the issue, Justice Samuel Alito questioned whether every last juvenile offender had to be given a second chance. “Some of the actual cases in which this sentence has been imposed in Florida involve factual situations that are so horrible that I couldn’t have imagined them if I hadn’t actually seen them,” Alito said …

via High court looks at life sentences for juveniles – Yahoo! News.

The problem is our brain technology is still primitive. Rather than spending so much money keeping people in prison, we need to figure out how to do brain adjustments that really work by extinguishing certain memory patterns which are the cause criminal behavior. I’m not saying we should create zombies, just make people healthy and functional by fixing faulty wiring. I believe this is ultimately the most humane thing to do, as long as safeguards are in place to prevent such technology from being used to create obedient human slaves.

Leave a Reply