Supreme Court Considers Giving Juveniles Second Chance

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BY JISELLE MACALAGUIN ANCHOR JIM FLINK The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether two murderers,...
BY JISELLE MACALAGUIN ANCHOR JIM FLINK The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether two murderers, who were 14 years old when convicted, will spend the rest of their lives behind bars. The court heard cases Jackson V. Hobbs and Miller V. Alabama. CNN explains. “The justices seemed to find little agreement on how young is too young in these rare instances, and whether it would be cruel and unusual punishment to forego the chance that these now-adult inmates may someday be rehabilitated.” While a handful of states do not allow juveniles to be sentenced to life, the vast majority of states do as Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out. Fox News reports... “Something like 39 states allow it. I mean, the American people, you know, have decided that that’s the rule.” The inmates are now men. One case involves Evan Miller, now 23, who nine years ago robbed and beat a man before setting his trailer on fire and killing him in Alabama. The other case involves Kuntrell Jackson, now 26,who robbed an Arkansas video store while his friend shot and killed a store clerk. The Washington Post quotes a clinical psychologist from the University of Vermont, who argues juveniles act on impulse -- but learn to restrain themselves over time. “Based on the stage of their brain development, they are more likely to act on impulse, more likely to misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions, and less likely think twice, change their mind, or pause to consider the consequences of their actions.” NPR agrees, citing cases where juvenile killers have been able to change their lives after being released from prison. “... there is Raphael Johnson, who shot and killed a classmate when he was 17, but after his release got bachelor's and master's degrees with honors and started a community policing program in Detroit. Or there is Lawrence Wu, a 15-year-old New York gang member who eventually became the editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review. The American Civil Liberties Union says more than 25-hundred people in this country began serving a life sentence while juveniles. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision in June. (Image Source: NPR)