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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: June 2020

15 - The Future of Juvenile Life-Without-Parole Sentences

from Part III - The Future of the Eighth Amendment


Despite inventing the juvenile court model in the late nineteenth century, the United States has become an international outlier in the severity of its juvenile sentencing practices. In 2020 in this country, adolescents are routinely transferred out of juvenile court and into adult criminal court often without any judicial oversight. Once in adult court, children can be sentenced without regard for their youth. Juveniles are housed in adult correctional facilities; they may be held in solitary confinement; and they experience high rates of sexual and physical assault. Until 2005, children convicted in America’s courts were subject to the death penalty, and in many states, they still may be sentenced to die in prison. In fact, the United States is the only country in the world that permits children to be sentenced to life without parole (LWOP).