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The Young are Different, Justices Rule - Letter to the Editor

The New York Times

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To the Editor:

Re “Justices Limit Life Sentences for Juveniles” (front page, May 18):

The Supreme Court’s decision in Graham v. Florida was a welcome recognition of the need to treat juvenile offenders differently from adult criminals when it comes to sentencing. As Justice Anthony M. Kennedy explained, “An offender’s age is relevant to the Eighth Amendment, and criminal procedure laws that fail to take defendants’ youthfulness into account at all would be flawed.”

Congress and state policy makers need to take this message to heart, and reconsider laws that allow young children to be transferred to adult criminal court for their offenses. As the report I co-authored last year showed, 27 states allow children age 12 and under to be tried as adults. In adult court, these children face very harsh sentences, up to and including life without parole.


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