In June, the United States Supreme Court held that juveniles who committed murder while under the age of 18 cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. However, the Court's holding did not make clear whether this mandate should be applied retroactively or whether it should apply only in future cases.
Accountability is an important concept for kids to learn. From the time that children are very small, they learn every day that their actions have consequences. The extent to which children may be held accountable for their actions, though, depends on the situation.
In Wisconsin and many other states around the country, local governments are beginning to reexamine and revise their criminal sentencing and prison procedures. Faced with budget shortfalls and high rates of recidivism, states and counties are establishing alternative methods of punishment for people who are convicted of DUI, drug crimes and other low-level, nonviolent offenses. Often, these sentences are geared more toward rehabilitation, focusing on the behavior that led to the criminal offense instead of merely punishing for the offense that was its product.
A recent case involving two Wisconsin teenagers has raised some controversy. It is a good example of the legal troubles that can befall two consenting teenagers in a romantic relationship as a result of strict enforcement of Wisconsin's sex crime laws.
We have written several posts about the condition of Wisconsin's criminal justice system. There are many signs that it is working well, including the fact that Wisconsin's prison population has been declining. But one prosecutor from Milwaukee County thinks our state system could work better, save money, and keep more people out of prison.
Anyone following the national news lately has noticed a big problem plaguing many states: prisons are overcrowded. This is especially true in states like California that impose prison sentences for a wider variety of non-violent offenses such as drug crimes. Overcrowding in prisons leads to serious health and safety problems, and it costs taxpayers billions of dollars per year.