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What To Do About Juvenile Sentencing

In August, I wrote about efforts to reform California's sentencing laws, which allow courts to condemn minors to life without parole. According to the Fair Sentencing For Youth Project, the United States has 2,503 juveniles--in California and a handful of other states--serving life sentences without the chance for rehabilitation, while the rest of the world has none. Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in two juvenile sentencing cases out of Florida, both involving mentally impaired minors who were convicted of non-homicidal crimes and still given life without parole. This morning, The New York Times editorial board implored the justices to do the right thing:

 "The Supreme Court must keep the international standard in mind when it hears arguments on Monday in Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida. … Children who commit nonviolent crimes like theft and burglary are just as likely to be shipped off to adult courts as children who commit serious violent crimes. And the process is racially freighted, with black and Latino children more likely to be sent to adult courts than white children who commit comparable crimes. … The laws under which they [the two Florida minors] were convicted violate current human rights standards and the Constitution."

Indeed, the Court should overturn the two decisions in question, forcing Florida, California, and other states to start treating juveniles in their justice systems more humanely.