Supreme Court recognizes that people change

In a no-brainer, the Supreme Court has picked up on the fact that 17 year olds are likely to be different individuals when they get older.

By a 5-4 vote, the court said young people serving life prison terms must have “a meaningful opportunity to obtain release” if they haven’t killed their victims. The majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy extended the “children are different” rationale that drove his decision five years ago that outlawed the death penalty for killers under 18.

To no one’s surprise, Scalia and his puppet, Thomas, both dissented. Of course, they’re legal minds haven’t matured past the age of 11 year olds, so maybe they just aren’t aware of the obvious facts of life.

But even the average Joe can be an idiot. This is from the comment section on the Yahoo! article; I suspect it will turn out to be rather representative of the conservative criticism that will be dealt out to this piece of reason.

This is great. Once again the US Supreme Court is telling juveniles it is OK to disobey the laws of this country as long as you do it before 18.

Yes, that’s exactly it. Despite all the news reports, the quotes from the justices, and the actual written opinions, what has actually just happened is that the Supreme Court has ruled that there are no punishments for crimes committed as children. Rob a store at 17? You’re free. Snort cocaine and get busted at 16? No sweat. I mean, how else could someone possibly interpret such a heavy and complex ruling?!

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3 Responses

  1. I haven’t reviewed this opinion yet, I will need to though, very interesting. I have no issues with the theory here, but I don’t like the line they draw between adults and juveniles. A person who is 17 + 364 days and a person who is 18 + 0 days old committing the same crime COULD end up with different sentences. (given identical circumstances both in the commission of the crime and in court)

    Legally that’s a huge difference in age, practically? None.

    A revamp of this line between total culpability and too young to be responsible needs to be looked in to.

  2. There always has to be lines drawn – driving age, drinking age, voting age, second trimester, third class of the term for dropping out, etc.

    Studies have shown that young people’s minds are different than adults and changing up to (something like) age 23. Therefore setting a line at 18 is reasonable.

    Note the wording above: “must have “a meaningful opportunity to obtain release” “. Contrary to the non-thinking Yahoo commenter, this is not a license to get away with something.

  3. My issue was not with whether brain chemistry changes up to roughly a certain age or not, there have to be lines drawn someplace for obvious reasons. But one day could be the difference between 20 years or dying in prison.

    We don’t have the issue in Maine so much, a place where we let people who killed in cold blood at 16 get out when they are 21.

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