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State-by-State Abolition of Juvenile Life without Parole Sentences in the United States since Miller v. Alabama (2012)

Kim, Gina

Since Miller v. Alabama (2012), 18 states and the District of Columbia abolished juvenile life without parole sentences. This thesis examines the arguments, norms, logic, and messages utilized at each state since Miller to support the elimination of juvenile life without parole sentences. The arguments either stem from the nature of children or the nature of the sentence itself. Scientific studies that confirm the distinctive psychological attributes of youth has been adduced to argue for the diminished culpability of children, the inability of the sentence to serve its penological goals, children’s capacity of change, and the fallacy of the predictive enterprise to determine the incorrigibility of a juvenile offender. The harshness of the sentence itself, domestic and foreign practice, the prohibition of the sentence under international human rights law, the fiscal and behavioral benefits of offering the possibility of parole, and the racial disparities of the sentence have also been argued at the state-level. The effectiveness of the arguments above may be enhanced when they are delivered by formerly incarcerated youth or victims of violence or when they are reframed as a religious ideal to a more conservative, religious audience.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Holland, Tracey M.
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2019
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