Although juvenile offenders in Wisconsin should be held responsible for their crimes, many people question the degree of punishment minors should receive. Credible studies confirm that teenagers are not always able to suppress aggressive behavior, make rational decisions, or understand the consequences of their actions. Some believe that rehabilitation and treatment should be favored over intense incarceration for juvenile crimes. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with this thought when they took away the courts’ ability to sentence juvenile offenders to life-without-parole in 2012.
Now, for the first time since that ruling, juvenile offenders who have been imprisoned since the early years of their lives will have a chance to be heard. Currently, there are 63 inmates in Massachusetts who were given the juvenile life sentence without parole. Approximately 2,500 across the nation are also serving time for their juvenile life sentence. One man has spent over 21 years in prison for a felony murder charge; yet he was not the one two actually killed the individual. After he appears in court, the judge will decide whether he should be sent to a minimum security prison where he may eventually be released.
Peer pressure, family influences, employment, school, and other relationship issues all contribute to a teenager’s ability to make choices. A bad choice may affect the child for years to come, and wreak havoc on their ability to find employment, drive a car or obtain school funding. Juveniles who are facing criminal charges may want to contact a knowledgeable attorney for assistance in building a strong defense case.
Source: Boston.com, “2 Juvenile Lifers in Mass. Getting 1st Parole Hearings,” Paige Sutherland, May 29, 2014.