KEY FEATURES • A brief introduction to the U.S. judicial system and to the public policy dimension of judicial decisions provides context for the material. • Criminal and regulatory laws are presented with contrasting views on various contemporary public policy issues, including assault weapons, hate crimes, stand your ground laws, police use of deadly force, and much more. • A question for debate and learning objectives appear at the beginning of each chapter. The debate format features contemporary topical issues that engage students and ask them to consider various points of view. • Brief essays introduce students to each debate and put the issue into context to help students understand how policy issues arise in criminal justice and law. • Summaries of the positions follow the debate sections to ensure students have a clear understanding of the contrasting arguments. • “You Decide” exercises and discussion questions appear at the end of each debate to give students the opportunity to apply what they read to new and novel situations.

Punishment: Life Imprisonment for Juvenile Homicide Offenders

4.2 punishment: life imprisonment for juvenile homicide offenders

Should Juvenile Homicide Offenders Be Sentenced to Life Imprisonment?

Learning Objectives

  • Know how the common law treated juvenile offenders.
  • Understand the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Roper v. Simmons, Graham v. Florida, and Miller v. Alabama.
  • Comprehend the arguments for and against sentences of mandatory life imprisonment without parole for juveniles convicted of homicide.

Oppose Life Imprisonment for Juvenile Homicide Offenders

Justice Elena Kagan, majority opinion, Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___ (2012)

Support Life Imprisonment for Juvenile Homicide Offenders

Chief Justice John Roberts, dissenting, Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___ (2012)

Justice Samuel Alito, dissenting, Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___ (2012)


The common law by the seventeenth century divided juvenile offenders into three categories. Children under seven were ...

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