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  • New Fall Foundry Series: Adult Time for Adult Crimes

    On November 9th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments challenging the constitutionality of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences. In preparation for oral arguments, JLWOP: Faces & Cases will be an on-going series on The Foundry that will tell real stories about juvenile offenders who are currently serving LWOP sentences.

    Life without parole for the very worst juvenile offenders is reasonable, constitutional, and (appropriately) rare. In response to the Western world’s worst juvenile crime problem, U.S. legislators have enacted commonsense measures to protect their citizens and hold these dangerous criminals accountable. Forty-three states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have set the maximum punishment for juvenile offenders at life without the possibility of parole. By the numbers, support for its use is overwhelming.

    Nonetheless, its continued viability is at risk from misleading lobbying efforts in many states and court cases that seek to substitute international law for legislative judgments and constitutional text.

    Emboldened by the Supreme Court’s Roper v. Simmons decision, which relied on the Eighth Amendment’s “cruel and unusual punishments” language to prohibit capital sentences for juveniles, anti-incarceration activists have set about extending the result of Roper to life without parole. If they succeed, an important tool of criminal punishment will be eliminated, and all criminal sentences could be subjected to second-guessing by judges, just as they are in capital punishment cases today.

    The most visible aspects of this campaign are a number of self-published reports and “studies” featuring photographs of young children and litigation attacking the constitutionality of life without parole for juvenile offenders—including two cases that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear in its 2009 term.

    To see the entire executive summary from Adult Time for Adult Crimes click here.

    Charles D. Stimson is Senior Legal Fellow and Andrew M. Grossman is Senior Legal Policy Analyst in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to New Fall Foundry Series: Adult Time for Adult Crimes

    1. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      When ANY judge or politician begins to insert international law against or in replacement of our Constitution – we will be destroyed in the long run.

      This is one of many reasons why there should be term limits for ALL judges. The term limit can be discussed and debated but term limits should be written into law.

      The most obvious reason is to curb power on those who assume the bench and turn into ideologues. We need strict Constitutionalists.

    2. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      What scares me about Life Without Parole is the fact that police lie (all the time, and get away with it) and witnesses lie (they don't believe in God nor the 10 Commandments). The other thing is you can't really trust DNA evidence because idiots are collecting it without applying common sense (the boyfriend/husband's DNA is supposed to be there).

      We labor under a terrific bias that police bring cases based on evidence. They don't, it is often a pet theory. Police don't collect evidence with an even hand, they don't collect evidence that doesn't support their theory of the crime. Furthermore the Jury is never allowed to hear all the evidence. The risk of false prosecution is so great these days (police cut their teeth on Traffic Law and that is 90% thought crime, ie. statistics proving "damages" that don't exist) that police think nothing of false prosecution, they do it all the time.

      I surely do believe that the punishment should fit the crime, but untie the judge's hands and take off the jury's hoodwinks. Let them do their jobs just like our Country's Founders designed.

    3. Boyce Robbins- Easle says:

      Alas, the poor criminals. Those nasty old police actually employ devious means to convict them. All they are doing is redistribtuing the wealth and what is wrong with that? If those greedy victims would only surrender their wealth voluntarily all this would be unnecessary.

    4. Normca says:

      For anyone who puts a wide blanket over any group and says they are all guilty of lying, I say get out. Most police take their job seriously and most new officers actually fought for America in Iraq or that "good war" in Afghanistan [the one where I am not sure I want to send more troops today]. For some, kids or adults, life without parole is sadly necessary because of what that person has become. Where a case can be reviewed for 10 years, using DNA and modern implements, the perpetrator's guilt is confirmed and their crime is so awful, they need to be locked up for their natural lives. And to say the police lied about the facts – well try living in a world without police. To put a blanket statement over all is unjustified and ignorant.

    5. Jerry from Chicago says:

      To Mr. Boyce Robbins, S.C. — Sir, I couldn't agree more, or said it better. Amen.

    6. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      Thanks Leon, I am sure the families of every law enforcement officer, which includes me, are happy to know that instead of putting thier lives on the line everyday, they lie to have arrest and convictions. The 17yro sniper who kept this area in suspense for days while he killed innocent people is serving LWOP, do you think he was set up by the police?? How about my nephew's partner killed serving a warrant, and the young deputy who was also killed leaving 2 kids without a mother? Live in our shoes we never know when that knock will come just like the families of our servicemen.

    7. Jill, California says:

      Well said, Jeanne. While no one should be wrongly committed because of police misconduct … if it exists … neither should criminals escape punishment for their crimes.

      Our legal system owes a duty of care to society. When murderers, rapists, and other dangerous offenders are set free due to a technicality, they generally hurt other people who would have otherwise been safe. What about the rights of those victims?

      If police lie or manipulate the evidence, the only appropriate response is to punish them, not to reward the criminals. When we start doing that, we'll clean up the system.

      I have friends in law enforcement, and I know that the vast majority of police are honest. But I also know that we have a few bad apples. However, a few bad apples shouldn't ruin it for everyone.

    8. DAN MOFFATT says:

      WHEN,AND IF THIS GREAT COUNTRY DECIDES TO USE INTERNATIONAL LAW,TO SATISFY THE CORRUPT,AND POWERFUL POLITICIANS,AND JUDGES THAT SIT AND RULE,WHEN THEY SHOULD BE INTERPRETING OUR CONSTITUTION,AMERICA,WILL BE DOOMED.WE ARE ALMOST THERE NOW.LORD ACTON, AN HISTORIAN AND MORALIST EXPRESSED HIS OPINION IN A LETTER TO BISHOP MANDELL CREIGHTON IN 1887:"POWER TENDS TO CORRUPT,AND ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY.GREAT MEN ARE ALMOST ALWAYS BAD MEN."

      WE HAVE OUR BAD MEN AND BAD WOMEN WHO WOULD CHANGE THE FACE OF AMERICA.WE,HERE IN AMERICA ARE SIMPLY PEOPLE WHO DO NOT TAKE TO EUROPEAN LAW.WE,ARE UNIQUE,AND PEACE LOVING PEOPLE.WHAT WE,IN AMERICA NEED IS "TERM LIMITS"FOR ALL OUR POLITICIANS,AND JUDGES.THREE YEAR LIMITS ONLY.

    9. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      When so many of our true and honorable men and women give their lives each day in service to this Nation, because they gave their Oath to honor our Constitution before anything else, I really have a hard time placing the individual before the many.

      Especially if that individual were of the type being a child molestor who killed. I have read and seen too many times of these kind of beings, released and repeating the same offences time after time.

      How does anyone place an age limit on pure evil? How do you put in circumstances?

    10. Jerry, Richmond, VA says:

      I once held beliefs like Jeanne's, but my exposure to the legal system made possible by a cop "massaging" the truth gave me cause to reassess, and I now have more in common with Leon. Lacking video evidence of the event, justice was dependent upon the integrity of the officers involved whose stories changed in a coordinated fashion as needed to get the conviction. Changes included who was present, timing of events, addition and ommission of actions by people on both sides, quotes out of context and implausible explanations. Since then, I've learned (from cops) of numerous common abuses including, the unprovoked punches thrown by cops at the end of a foot-chase are termed a "run tax". Many cops abuse authority; most will ignore an indiscretion rather than expose it – potentially a career ending move. Cops often view the ability to mitigate legal prosecution of family or friends as a perk.

      As for punishment, I'm all in favor of the Biblical OT standard – applied to both sides.

    11. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      Yes there are a few who let their authority go to their heads, the majority of law inforcement are decent law abiding FAMILY men and women, all agencies have IA dept(Internal Affairs), I've run up against cops who believe an older person against the younger one, sometimes it'd the older person has a gift of gab and can con the PD to believe what he says and we all are guilty of believing older people because of age. If you feel wronged by a law man go to his organ. IA and write out a complaint, then tell them YOU want to know each step that is taken. Remember even the lawmen are intiled to face you their accussers. I still believe most are honest and Jerry just be grateful for them and that you don't wait for the knock on the door. I am proud aunt of three law men one in PG co. Md, a ret. det. in fla. shot in line of duty, and a retired Metro transit cop, who lived through the Sniper days when we were all on edge.Remember a Metro driver was killed just standing by hisbus waiting to start his run.

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