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Juvenile life-sentence cases are being reexamined

Many studies have shown that the adolescent brain is not yet fully developed and, in many cases, is unable to make rational decisions. This is especially true when teenagers are put into certain, high-stress situations. While some people believe that Wisconsin teenagers who commit juvenile crimes are a menace to society and should be locked away in prison, others believe that teens should be given a chance at rehabilitation.

In 1997, a young, 15-year-old Florida resident was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of a murder charge. Her case is one that is being reevaluated under a new bill that was recently passed by the Florida House.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that sentencing juvenile criminals to life without the option of parole was considered cruel and unusual punishment and is violating Constitutional law. The Florida Supreme Court is revisiting cases that sentenced juveniles to life in prison.

The U.S. Supreme Court is in agreement with numerous reports stating that the teenage brain is in the process of evolving and maturing. This physiological fact may be reason enough to offer certain teenage offenders rehabilitation and a second chance at life.

There are some circumstances, however, that warrant a life sentence, including juvenile murderers who have a history of committing serious crimes. This bill simply gives judges the right to make those decisions based on the facts of the case.

Teenagers charged with criminal activity may not be aware of the severe consequences that accompany a conviction. They may not fully understand the actions that have resulted in their arrest. An established attorney may lend valuable legal counsel and help young people to formulate a defense case.

 

Source: News4, “Florida House passes juvenile sentencing bill,” Associated Press, Apr.2, 2014

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