Life Without Paraole Essay

590 WordsJan 3, 20133 Pages
There are no juvenile offenders serving life without parole sentences outside of the United States. The argument against life sentences without parole for juveniles parallels, to some extent, the argument of the majority in Roper versus Simmons. Children are different. Juveniles have not developed in the same way as adults. They are more given to impulsivity, recklessness and are more susceptible to peer pressure. They are inherently less responsible (which does not mean entirely un-responsible) than adults. Neuroscientists have shown that brain regions and systems responsible for foresight, self regulation, risk assessment, responsiveness to social influences continue to mature until young adulthood. Children and juveniles under 16 cannot legally drive an automobile, buy cigarettes or alcohol, get married and can work only limited hours after school. All these recognize relevant differences in development and responsibility between adolescents and adults. Criminal sentencing should likewise do so. In short, minors need to be considered differently than adults in sentencing due to differences in brain development, emotional maturity and their greater capacity for rehabilitation. As Alison Parker, Deputy Director of the U.S. Program at the NGO, Human Rights Watch, has put it: children are different than adults. They need to be punished for serious crimes but the punishment they receive needs to acknowledge their capacity for rehabilitation and life without parole does not do that”. Paradoxically, prisoners sentenced as juveniles to life-sentence without parole are actually less eligible for limited spaces in GED programs, substance abuse programs etc. Many California youth said they were barred by the state from attending various educational or rehabilitation programs offered in prison. They have a lower priority for inclusion than prisoners who are eligible,

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