Should children who commit felonies be subject to life sentences?

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  1. Ralph Deeds profile image64
    Ralph Deedsposted 13 years ago

    Should children who commit felonies be subject to life sentences?

    Cases involving a 12 and a 13 year old convicted of felonies and serving life sentences are before the U.S. Supreme Court. How do you think the court should rule?

  2. Jeffrey Neal profile image71
    Jeffrey Nealposted 13 years ago

    I don't really think least not for most cases.  If any attempts should be made to rehabilitate a criminal, it should be for minors.  I think there may be a point of no return, depending on the severity of the crimes and if they are repeat offenders, but at least initially, we should try harder with the kids.

  3. SheriSapp profile image61
    SheriSappposted 13 years ago

    I think that if a murder is commited, and the juvenile is of sound mind, a life sentence is just fine. When you end a life and affect many other lives by your action, you give up any right to freedom.

  4. Ralph Deeds profile image64
    Ralph Deedsposted 13 years ago

    The U.S. may be the only nation where a 13-year-old can be sentenced to life in prison without parole, even for crimes that do not include murder. This should trouble Americans  as should all  the barbaric sentencing policies for children that this country embraces but that most of the world has abandoned.

    The court must consider the international standard in Graham v. FL and Sullivan v. FL. Both argue that life without the possibility of parole for a non homicide violates the 8th Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment.

    The court came down on the right side of this issue in 2005, ruling that children who commit crimes before 18 shouldn't be subject to the death penalty, correctly pointing out that juveniles are less culpable because they lack maturity, are vulnerable to peer pressure and have personalities still unformed.

    For the majority, Justice Kennedy said executing  children violated the 8th Amendment, conflicted with “evolving standards of decency” and isolated the U.S. in the world.

    Roper took scores of juveniles off death row and threw a spotlight onto state policies under which young juveniles were increasingly being tried in adult courts and sentenced to adult jails, often for nonviolent crimes.

    The practice is more troubling because it's arbitrary. Children who commit nonviolent crimes like theft and burglary are just as likely to be tried in adult courts as children who commit serious violent crimes. And black and Latino children are more likely to be sent to adult courts than white children for omparable crimes.

    The rush to try more children as adults began in the 1980s when the country was gripped by hysteria about an adolescent crime wave that never materialized. Joe Sullivan, the petitioner in Sullivan v. Florida, was sentenced to life without parole in 1989 — when he was just 13 — after a questionable sexual battery conviction. His two older accomplices testified against the  mentally impaired boy andreceived short sentences, one as a juvenile.

    The Graham case is similar. A learning disabled child — born to crack-addicted parents — Graham was on probation for a burglary when he was 16. He had older accomplices. He was never convicted of the actual crime but was given life without parole for violating his probation.

    These were two troubled children  not beyond rehabilitation. The laws under which they were convicted violate  human rights standards and the Constitution.

  5. Lady_E profile image65
    Lady_Eposted 13 years ago

    I tihnk kids of that age have no clear judgement. They should be  punished,  but not sentenced to life. (as they don't have the mindset of adults).

  6. janiek13 profile image76
    janiek13posted 13 years ago

    The frontal lobe of the adolescent brain is not fully developed. The frontal lobe is responsible for reasoning and judgment and it is not until early adulthood that the brain completes it's development. There should be consequences for any child that commits a crime, but the rehabilitation model should be utilized rather than the punishment model.

  7. profile image0
    worried manposted 13 years ago

    No.Period.I worry about the nessessity for any such discussion;on several different levels.What's wrong with the childs environment that's causing them to commit felonies?What's up with a community that doesn't make a legal distinction between a child and an adult?How young does someone have to be to be considered a child?And what about a culture that finds it nessessary to even have such a discussion.

  8. dabeaner profile image60
    dabeanerposted 13 years ago

    Their parents also should be subject to life sentences, also.  And so should their priests, ministers, mullahs, and pandering politicians.  Those slime encouraged them to bring children into the world that they do not have the resources and intelligence to raise properly.

    It is too bad about the kids, but they need to be put away, or put down, just like the mad dogs they are.

  9. topshelf profile image59
    topshelfposted 13 years ago

    I don't believe children should have life sentences. That's way to harsh. What we need to do is teach these kids and yes they need to be punished some way so they can learn their lesson and teach others to not commit the same crime. Something's wrong with their head if they're thinking about murdering or any other crime. But at the same time you can't blame these children. Look at what they're surrounded by. They have learned these behaviors from somewhere. Look at our movies, tv shows, games, and media!!!! We are teaching these behaviors and then we get mad because they're just repeating what they've seen.

  10. profile image53
    gbaby91posted 13 years ago

    No they shouldn't be sentenced to life thats ending there life its different if they killed someone but they should atleast have the option of parole

  11. Cindy Says profile image59
    Cindy Saysposted 13 years ago

    A cop once told me that he didn't think anyone under the age of 19 who is convictged of a non-violent crime should get much more than probation.  He was convinced that at 19, most people become suddenly more responsible, and that jail time before that just made young people more likely to be repeat offenders.

    Unless a child has shown signs of being an unrepentant sociopath, a life sentence is cruel and unusual.  There are adults who take people's lives who don't get sentences that harsh.

    We have a huge dichotomy in this country about what constitutes adulthood.  In America, you must be 21 to drink, but can be tried and sentenced as an adult at 14.  Your parents are not responsible for your care or actions once you turn 18, but in many states you can't legally sign a contract until you are 21.This means you can't rent a place to live or buy a car.  In some states you need your parents permission to marry before the age of 21.  We seem to have it all backwards.

  12. profile image0
    roddmaposted 13 years ago

    Yes but look what happened with the Seattle cops He s just  akid they say and let him go Sorry to sound harsh but if you do adult crime do adult time. Victims often get left out of the picture just because of age fo the offender. How would you feel in the Seattle case or the parent of the 9 year old killed in Missouri by a 15 year old.  I dont agree with the death penalty for minors but some justice must be served.WHat makes them repeat offenders is light sentencing and slaps on the wrists.

  13. profile image57
    C.J. Wrightposted 13 years ago

    Children should not be sentenced to life "without parole" Too many questions regarding mental and emotional development. However the standard "LIFE" sentence is 10 to 25 before becoming eligible for parole. I see nothing wrong with locking them up for extended periods of time if the circumstances warrant it.  Of course this question only leads to more questions....where do we lock them up? Too violent for other youthfull offenders? Too young to be locked up with adults? These are alll tough questions that accompany Ralph's original question.

  14. christalluna1124 profile image78
    christalluna1124posted 13 years ago

    Ralph I just finished a hub on this exact same topic and I honestly think it should be an option. On a case by case basis, the decision should be made. It is sad to see that society has come to this but in some cases like the one in my hub, yes , I would have no problem with it.

  15. MonsterManiac profile image58
    MonsterManiacposted 13 years ago

    you know just recently where i live a ten yr old boy shot his father in the head with a rifle because his dad grounded im not sure how they charged him i just know that they didnt try him as an adult or for murder.  I believe any free thinking mind that is not mentally obscured should be charged for what they have done....murder is murder and i think the life sentence is bs anyways just more tax payers money being used to support there time in jail.....JUST GO AHEAD AND KILL THEM NOW!!!

  16. andromida profile image59
    andromidaposted 13 years ago

    I think they can be sentenced for a specific period of time-can  be few years-with the provision of rehabilitation program including psychological therapy. If they are not punished then they will not learn any lesson , at the same time if they get life sentences they potential will be wasted. But before every judgment we should consider what was the motif of the crime-sometimes the inappropriate behavior of the adults make children to commit big mistake in life.

  17. days leaper profile image61
    days leaperposted 13 years ago

    Yes.  Because the alternative is they get away with it.  And are only likely to think twice in future with adequate correction and supervision.  (assuming life is as C.J. Wright says "10 to 25 years before parole").  To families of victims etc. this may not seem long enough!

    I will end with a question which sort of supports the original one.  Children of parents who have a criminal record are more likely to become criminals.  I've even seen children stalking a persons premises with a view to break and entry.  And they viewed it with an air of excited adventure!

    The question is:  Shouldn't the parents also be held responsible for their childrens crimes?  ...I think so.

  18. commisioner profile image60
    commisionerposted 13 years ago

    i do believe there is a place for a life sentence for children. but it must not be given for first time offenders. face it, we have all probably heard of very large 13-15 year old boys raping girls, women and other boys. those crimes are very devastating to the victim, and a punishment should be given. my strongest idea for this is in the short term, boot camp where all rights and privileges be taken from the child and his/ her parents have no more say in their upbringing. in the long term parents and teachers should be allowed to punish children with corporal punishment. i know it opens the door to possible abuse, but the fact we can no longer so much as slap our kids behind without a prison sentence for us is outrageous.when we can't discipline the  children, they fear no repercussions for their actions. these "child protection laws" have gone too far. the result is more and more kids getting away with crimes and becoming more brazen with each crime they commit. if the right of the parents were never taken away, these kids would either respect their elders or be locked up forever. knowing that, they would behave better.
    my kids only feared on thing,"wait til your dad gets home". they were never abused and have never been in any trouble.

  19. RachaelLefler profile image92
    RachaelLeflerposted 13 years ago

    It's interesting because we were just discussing this issue in my Criminology class. I personally think absolutely no one under the age of 18 should get life in prison without the possibility of parole.

  20. gg.zaino profile image76
    gg.zainoposted 13 years ago

    you bet your ass they deserve to be treated as adult felons...
    a friend of mine was murdered in 1987 by a group of five teens- only one was 18 and tried as an adult.
       the others were sentenced to their remaining years as juveniles at the detention facility in RI for punks...then set free, one stayed 7 months, the others served less than two years at juvenile -
       then were cut loose!
       this was an especially brutal murder by bludgeoning. my friend didn't have a chance. he left behind a pregnant wife of two years, a newly bought home, a son he never saw- and 33 years of a human beings life and friendships...
       send the kids to prison who commit violent felony crimes- they are very aware of their status as minors and play it to the hilt. ggz

  21. SpanStar profile image61
    SpanStarposted 13 years ago

    Boy in school shooting may be tried as an adult
    15-year-old allegedly killed principal, wounded two other administrators

       Decline Chart of School Homcides Charts
    http://youthviolence.edschool.virginia. … tings.html

    I admit passing sentencing on children is hard however Murder Is Not Childs Play.  Once anyone thinks of murder or acts out murder they have crossed the line.  The people the murder passed judgement on by murdering them did not want to died the same as the murder doesn't want to died.  When someone is murdered it isn't just one person that pays the price, a families, a communities, maybe even a society could be effected by this lost.

    To say ok they're kids so we won't give them the same punishment as an adult that sends a message to those who would want to do evil like street gangs, thugs which can easily say "let's just get a kid to kill so-and-so." Now all children's child hood is at risk since they don't know if they'll be forced to do something they might never had done in their life.

    Until the adults clean-up society where children most likely won't be put in a position to commit these horrible acts I believe they will have to be judge on the fact that they have crossed the line and someone has to pay for that.

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