A few minutes ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled it is unconstitutional to sentence juvenile killers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. We support that hallmark decision because a bright line is now forever drawn between the immature lives of children and the unruly lives of adult offenders:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says it’s unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole for murder.
The high court on Monday threw out Americans’ ability to send children to prison for the rest of their lives with no chance of ever getting out. The 5-4 decision is in line with others the court has made, including ruling out the death penalty for juveniles and life without parole for young people whose crimes did not involve killing.
The human brain doesn’t stop growing until age 26. We have always believed, as a society, that children are vulnerable, need our protection, and they require a lot of forgiveness. It never made sense for us to punish children for adult sins because we would be throwing away the promise of an unrealized life.
If we truly believe the penal system in the USA is one of reformation and reclamation — and not just one of punishment and warehousing — then we must always endeavor to find ways to divine the goodness in bad people and dig joy out of untold sorrow. It is our duty to look up and help each other through terrible times. Anyone can survive and thrive in happiness and unfetteredness — but few of us are able to sustain credible moral lives when confronted with unending suffering, suffocating death, and ongoing loss.
This Supreme Court decision confirms our human goodness and our belief that the best of us requires, somewhere, down deep, recognition that we know children who murder can be saved and reclaimed and brought back into a conscious world where they can, one day, thrive and be valued above the clanking, coiling, sickles and silent daggers of a failed childhood.