In a 2010 case, known as Graham v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court banned life sentences without a meaningful opportunity for release for juveniles convicted of non-homicide crimes. In a 2012 ruling known as Miller v. Alabama, the high court barred mandatory life sentences for juveniles convicted of murder. Juveniles can still face life sentences in such cases, but their brains aren’t fully developed and there’s a better chance for reform than with adult offenders. Judges must weigh criteria such as the offenders’ maturity and the nature of the crimes before imposing that sentence.
A juvenile is defined as being a young person. In reference to the law, a juvenile delinquent is a person under the age of 18 who commits a crime. According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, a person’s brain isn’t fully developed as a juvenile. This means that there’s room for positive influences to impact further brain development—the mind is still pliable.
With the surge in online interactions and social media trends, many teens in today’s society are looking for guidance in the wrong direction. If we can encourage them to stay on the right path, we may be able to prevent the juvenile from becoming a delinquent.