Should Juvenile Offenders Be Sentenced to Life?

Filed under: Opinions

The Supreme Court will examine whether children should be sentenced to life in prison. Photo: Craig Jewell,

It used to be that juvenile offenders in the United States could be put to death for their crimes. That practice was outlawed in 2005 when the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty for juvenile crimes was unconstitutionally cruel. But today, the U.S. remains the only country in the world that allows juveniles - some as young as 13 - to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Of course criminals should be punished for their crimes regardless of their age. But should kids be treated the same as adults?

Over at Cafe Mom, they are debating that very question and the general consensus seems to be that regardless of age, if you do the crime, you do the time.

But there are many who disagree, including Deborah LaBelle, a civil rights attorney. "Life-without-parole sentences ignore the very real differences between children and adults, abandoning the concepts of redemption and second chances upon which this country was built," she says.

Maybe the fate of young offenders spending the rest of their lives in prison is something you've never thought much about. But the Supreme Court is thinking about it and announced earlier this week that it will decide whether life sentences for children constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

What do you think? Should young offenders be given a shot a redemption and rehabilitation? Or do you believe, as one Cafe Mom reader does, that when the consequences of a crime last forever, so should the punishment?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.