Incarceration in America: Should Juveniles Be Sentenced to Life Without Parole?

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All this week, The Takeaway is talking about incarceration in America. We’ll talk with experts, advocates and former prisoners about the issues they’re facing, behind bars and outside the prison walls. Today we're focusing on juvenile justice.

This morning, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases with serious implications for children convicted of homicide: Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs. Both cases concern 14-year-olds convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole. The question before the court is whether life-without-parole sentences for juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment, which forbids cruel and unusual punishment. The Court has considered a number of juvenile justice cases over the past few years. In the 2005 case Roper v. Simmons, the Court overturned precedent by outlawing death sentences for juveniles. In the 2010 case Graham v. Florida, the Supreme Court ruled life sentences for juveniles convicted of non-homicide crimes unconstitutional. How will the Supreme Court rule this time?

With us is Terry Maroney, professor at Vanderbilt Law School and an expert on juvenile justice.