Monday, the Supreme Court arrived at a split decision. Their topic of vote? Whether sentencing juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a crime other than homicide violates the Constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
My first thought was that was stretching it a bit. I think if we want a clear view of cruel and unusual punishment we need to check out the acts people get away with in the name of getting into a college fraternity. But, diversions aside, the whole issue is whether or not life without parole is considered cruel and unusual.
Attorney Bryan Gowdy represented a 22 year old man who was sentenced to life without parole when he was 17. He explained that the man now seeks a meaningful opportunity to show that he is fit to live in society. The 17 year old was convicted of armed robbery, and broke his parole by taking part in a home invasion.
One of the Justices in the Supreme Court argued that juveniles are still developing and are not fully culpable for their actions. We`ve read the news, we`ve seen the horrible stories on TV of juveniles and even children committing acts so atrocious they can`t even be described, and they are being defended saying they aren`t fully responsible for what they do? If that is the case, then we need to be incarcerating the parents of those kids as well.
Children learn right and wrong before they reach the age of twelve. Many learn everything they need to know in kindergarten. The only difference between armed robbery and taking something that isn`t yours is the big words we use as adults.
Judges do need to make the distinction between the ages of young offenders, and each case should be treated delicately and individually, making a judge`s work difficult and sensitive. However, adult crimes are adult crimes, and many young offenders go into crime knowing that what they are doing is wrong. Claiming that these young offenders are not fully aware or responsible for their actions is either damning the youth of America or condemning their parents.