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Columbia Law School

Supreme Court of the United States

2015

Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court And The Transformation Of Juvenile Sentencing, Elizabeth S. Scott, Thomas Grisso, Marsha Levick, Laurence Steinberg Jan 2015

The Supreme Court And The Transformation Of Juvenile Sentencing, Elizabeth S. Scott, Thomas Grisso, Marsha Levick, Laurence Steinberg

Faculty Scholarship

In the past decade, the Supreme Court has transformed the constitutional landscape of juvenile crime regulation. In three strongly worded opinions, the Court held that imposing harsh criminal sentences on juvenile offenders violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. In combination, these cases create a special status for juveniles under Eighth Amendment doctrine as a category of offenders whose culpability is mitigated by their youth and immaturity, even for the most serious offenses. The Court also emphasized that juveniles are more likely to reform than adult offenders, and that most should be given a meaningful opportunity to ...