Children and Youth Services Review
Miller v. Alabama, homicide, life sentence, parole, youthful offender
The Supreme Court's recent decision in Miller v. Alabama found that juvenile life without the possibility of parole sentences for homicide crimes was unconstitutional if mandated by state law. Thus, allowing this sentence only after an individualized decision determines the sanction proportional given the circumstances of the offense and mitigating factors. This decision, for a number of reasons, does not go far enough in protecting those youthful offenders afflicted with maltreatment victimizations, mental health problems, and/or learning disabilities - all potential links for some adolescents to serious offending and potentially homicide. While the Supreme Court has not protected these youthful offenders from a potential life sentence, there are early interventions and preventative programming that can help decrease serious adolescent offending behaviors. So while many states will, post Miller, allow this life imprisonment sentence, it is only just, in light of the extensive difficulties for many of these adolescents, that their future allows at least the possibility of a parole hearing.
Mallett, Christopher A., "Juvenile Life Without the Possibility of Parole: Constitutional But Complicated" (2013). Social Work Faculty Publications. Paper 11.
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