The United States is the only industrialized country that
sentences individuals to spend the remainder of their lives in
prison for a crime they committed before the age of eighteen.
The justice system established the sentencing of juveniles to life
in prison without the possibility of parole to deter juvenile
delinquency. Life without parole was regarded as an appropriate
punishment following the rise of juvenile crime during the 1980s
and 1990s. However, as psychological differences between
juveniles and adults became more prominent, society began to
regard life without the possibility of parole as a cruel and
unusual punishment. Although some juveniles commit heinous
crimes that warrant a life in prison, others receive the same
punishment for a crime that does not merit a punishment of this
"Not Yet Legal and in Prison?,"
Themis: Research Journal of Justice Studies and Forensic Science:
Vol. 4, Article 5.
Available at: http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/themis/vol4/iss1/5