Scholarly Articles and Other Contributions
 

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

At the end of the twentieth century, the United States was an international outlier in the severity of its juvenile sentencing practices despite having invented the juvenile court model one century earlier. Today, juvenile sentencing reform is underway, particularly in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions that have cabined the states’ capacity to impose extreme sentences on juveniles. In this Article, I propose two additional reform measures that would help to rationalize the sentences imposed on children in the American criminal justice system—one on the front end of the system and one on the back end. In particular, on the front end, in states where life without parole (LWOP) is still a lawful sentence for a juvenile homicide defendant, courts should ensure that children facing that sentence are afforded procedural safeguards akin to those recommended for adults who face the death penalty. On the back end, executive actors should install juvenile-specific clemency boards—what I have called Miller Commissions—to give children serving lengthy sentences a second look.

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