By Jeffrey James Shook

“Almost exactly one year ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled that it was cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without the opportunity for parole for a non-homicide offense. The case, Graham v. Florida, built upon a Supreme Court ruling five years earlier that abolished the death penalty for young people. The court’s decisions relied on psychological and neuroscience research on adolescent development that affirmed that juveniles have a less developed sense of responsibility than adults, are more susceptible to outside influences, including peers, and that their character is not fully formed. Based on these findings, the court held that juveniles are not as deserving of the most severe punishments as adults because they are less culpable and have greater capacity to change.”

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