Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that 72 people who killed as juveniles may not be executed, some experts ask why life without parole is any more appropriate, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. If, as the court said, juvenile offenders are fundamentally different from adults, why shouldn’t youthful murderers be offered rehabilitative treatment? “The whole idea of juvenile justice revolves around the idea that we’re dealing with fixable people, kids who are still developing, but the death penalty made that idea irrelevant,” said Stephen Harper, a public defender who teaches about juvenile justice at the University of Miami.
Charles Hobson of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a victims’ advocacy organization in California, responded that, “Other things may help offenders, but they won’t necessarily keep the public safer.” Hobson said that if Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s logic were applied to other sentences, the public backlash would be overwhelming. “The problem is that he made a categorical distinction about youth, and people know that’s not right, that there are some offenders who, despite their age, are fully culpable for their crimes,” Hobson said.