I was surprised to learn recently that there are juvenile offenders who have been sentenced to life in prison. Surprised because I was under the impression that children and adolescents who commit horrible crimes were given some consideration as to their consciousness of the consequences of what they were doing, etc.

I was surprised to learn recently (as in this case) that there are juvenile offenders who have been sentenced to life in prison. Surprised because I was under the impression that children and adolescents who commit horrible crimes were given some consideration as to their consciousness of the consequences of what they were doing, etc. That’s not to minimize the magnitude of the crime, nor its profound impact on a victim’s family. Balancing both the fact that the perpetrator is essentially still a child and that the victim(s) have been aggrieved by the crime is really difficult, and I don’t really know if there is any compromise at all that can be made.   On the one hand, to impose a life sentence on a juvenile would be to take away their lives, their hopes, etc. Perhaps when they committed the crime they weren’t fully aware of the consequences. The adolescent brain is supposedly still developing especially in reasoning through the possible consequences (good and bad) of an action. Or maybe the perpetrator grew up in a broken home and at a critical point did something horrible.   But then, what about the survivors of the crime? Who is to say to them that the person who did something horrible to their loved one can’t be punished harshly? The argument about the awareness of the perpetrator can be weakened by the fact that it is an argument that can be made at any age. What the issue here after all is that which involves the life of individuals; most people know that to take another person’s life is not just against the law but morally reprehensible.   What do you think? Should there be life sentences for juveniles?   – Allyson

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