Since 2005, Supreme Court rulings have accepted adolescent brain science and banned the use of capital punishment for juveniles, limited life without parole sentences to homicide offenses, banned the use of mandatory life without parole, and applied the decision retroactively.
States can remedy the unconstitutionality of mandatory juvenile life without parole sentences by permitting parole hearings rather than resentencing the approximately 2,100 people whose life sentences were issued mandatorily.21,22
These new laws provide mandatory minimums ranging from a chance of parole after 15 years (as in Nevada and West Virginia) to 40 years (as in Nebraska). Twenty-five states still allow life without parole as a sentencing option for juveniles.
Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia do not have any prisoners serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles, either due to laws prohibiting the sentence or because there are no individuals serving the sentence at this time.
Racial disparities plague the imposition of JLWOP sentences. Sixty-two percent of people serving JLWOP, among those for whom racial data are available, are African American. While 23% of juvenile arrests for murder involve an African American suspected of killing a white person, 42% of JLWOP sentences are for an African American convicted of this crime. White juvenile offenders with African American victims are only about half as likely (3.6%) to receive a JWLOP sentence as their proportion of arrests for killing an African American (6.4%).32
Aside from important justice considerations, the financial cost of JLWOP sentences is significant. A life sentence issued to a juvenile is designed to last longer than a life sentence issued to an older defendant.
Housing juveniles for a life sentence requires decades of public expenditures. Nationally, it costs over $33,000 per year to house an average prisoner. This cost roughly doubles when that person is over 50.33 Therefore, a 50-year sentence for a 16-year old will cost upwards of $2.25 million.
Under current Supreme Court precedent, curbs on juvenile life without parole sentences do not guarantee release. Rather, Supreme court holdings and the reforms passed in response to those holdings by state legislatures provide an opportunity for individualized review before a parole board or a judge for a new sentence, taking into consideration the unique circumstances of each defendant.
The legal concept of juvenile status, like the concept of childhood itself, is relatively new. The juvenile court system was established in the United States a little more than a century ago, with the first court appearing in Illinois in 1899. Before that time, children and youth were seen as "miniature adults" and thus tried and punished as adults. But advances in the understanding of child development and the push for a more compassionate approach changed that idea.
The following article summarizes the history of the juvenile justice system in the United States, from lessons learned during the progressive era to the development of juvenile courts and modern, more progressive approaches to juvenile justice.
Initially, children who were convicted of crimes were housed with adult criminals. Social activists, lawmakers, and other officials soon realized that children institutionalized with adults were learning adult criminal behaviors and were exiting those institutions ready for criminal careers. Because of this negative influence, federal and state governments developed separate juvenile court systems and accompanying correctional institutions.
Early juvenile institutions in the United States were based on the English Bridewell institution which emphasized the teaching of life and trade skills. The idea behind teaching skills was that criminality was a skill set learned to survive in particular social environments. If youth were taught other skills, they were more likely to make meaningful contributions to society upon their release.
New reformatories, established in the mid to late 1800s, were cottages and foster homes that were often situated on farms. Family-type organization was prevalent, and hard physical labor was stressed. New reformatories suffered from the same types of problems as houses of refuge. Separate juvenile institutions for girls appeared in the mid-1880s, and these focused on teaching young women domestic and childrearing skills.
The first juvenile courts operated under the philosophy of parens patriae first articulated in Prince v. Massachusetts (1944). This philosophy meant the state could act "as a parent," and gave juvenile courts the power to intervene whenever court officials felt intervention was in the best interests of the child. Any offense committed was secondary to the offender.
While parens patriae was designed to handle youth committing criminal acts, the discretion of this philosophy became increasingly broad and was constantly debated in court. Several pivotal cases ensued which helped to shape the juvenile justice system.
Many changes have been made to the juvenile justice system to best serve minors caught up in criminal activity. If you or your child has been charged with a juvenile offense, you'll want to get a handle on your case and prepare for the juvenile court process. Get started today by contacting a criminal defense attorney near you.
A juvenile can be charged with simple assault for injuring anotherperson, threatening to or attempting to injure another person or evenmaking another person afraid. In this day and age, fights, threats, androughhousing that were once considered a part of growing up can lead toserious criminal charges.
For example, depending on which state you are in, hittingsomeone could lead to a juvenile assault charge, but so couldthreatening to hit someone. Even saying nothing, but merely looking atsomeone in a mean way could be considered simple assault, depending onthe circumstances.
Childrenunder the age of 18 who are charged with crimes are usually not dealtwith in the adult criminal justice system, but are instead handledthrough a special juvenile justice system. In the juvenile justicesystem, proceedings are often informal, and the case may be disposed ofwithout official charges ever being filed. The court's ultimate decisionor sentence focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment and isoften tailored to the particular juvenile. Usually, but not always,children are treated more leniently in the juvenile justice system thanthey would be if they were "sent up" to adult court.
Juvenilesdo not have the same constitutional rights as adults. While a juvenileusually has a right to an attorney, in many states there is no right to ajury trial, and proceedings occur before a judge. While adults cannotbe convicted of a crime unless the judge or jury finds the defendantguilty beyond a reasonable doubt, this standard applies only tojuveniles who are facing incarceration. The juvenile court may imposeother consequences on a juvenile after finding it more likely than notthat the juvenile committed assault.
Inmany states, the prosecutor or judge may decide to treat a juvenile asan adult, particularly if the charge is serious or if the child haspreviously been convicted of a crime. Sometimes, children over a certainage (often 16) who are charged with serious crimes (usually felonies)may be treated as an adult. If prosecuted as an adult, the juvenile istransferred out of the juvenile justice system and into the adultcriminal justice system. The juvenile then has the same constitutionalrights as an adult, but may be also be punished as an adult, includingincarceration in an adult jail or prison.
A conviction forjuvenile simple assault can have serious consequences, even if no formalcharges are brought. If you or your child stand accused of simpleassault, you should contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon aspossible. An experienced attorney will understand the laws in yourstate and can tell you how your case is likely to be treated in courtbased on the facts and the approach of the assigned prosecutor andjudge.
An attorney can help you understand the juvenile justicesystem and obtain the best outcome for you or your child. Sometimes injuvenile court, the best option is to proceed informally without beingrepresented by an attorney, but you should at least speak with anattorney before making that decision.
Lower Courts: The proceedings against Gault were conducted by a judge of the Superior Court of Arizona who was designated by his colleagues to serve as a juvenile court judge.Lower Court Ruling: The juvenile court judge committed Gault to juvenile detention until he attained the age of 21. At that time, no appeal was permitted in juvenile cases by Arizona law; therefore, a habeas petition was filed in the Supreme Court of Arizona and referred to the Superior Court for a hearing. The Superior Court dismissed the petition, and the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed.
Plain radiographs no longer play a role in the workup of a suspected juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma; however, they may still be obtained in some instances during the assessment of nasal obstruction or symptoms of sinus obstructions. Findings include 3:
This is a brief summary of the law on sealing juvenile criminal records. There are additional requirements and exceptions that are not covered by this article. If you have questions about sealing your juvenile criminal record, you should talk to an attorney. 2b1af7f3a8