Brooklyn Law Review


Over the last decade, Supreme Court precedent has changed the way courts have sentenced juveniles in the United States. It has failed, however, to clearly establish the proper handling of cases in which juveniles are sentenced to extended periods of time in prison that equate to a de facto sentence of life in prison without parole. Congress has also remained noticeably silent on the issue. Children are not considered mature enough to vote, to drink alcohol, to serve on a jury, and yet, courts treat juvenile offenders as mature enough to pay for their crimes for the remainder of their lives. Without a clear remedy in sight, juvenile offenders face uncertain fates and unequal treatment in the justice system, both on the state and federal level. Therefore, despite residing in the same circuit, a juvenile in New Jersey, for example, will face different sentencing consequences than a juvenile in Pennsylvania for similar crimes. This note proposes a solution for Congress to start the trend by banning de facto LWOP to fully establish that children are, in fact, treated differently than adults in the United States.

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