The U.S. leads the world in the number of people it has locked up for life without parole for crimes committed by juveniles, says a New York Times editorial. Juvenile crime should not be taken lightly, but young people should not be completely written off, the paper says. Sentencing juveniles to life without parole is at odds with international law; the vast majority of the world's countries ban the practice. Juveniles’ brain development differs from that of adults, making them less able than older people to resist impulses.
As many as 38 states sentence minors to life without the chance of parole. Pennsylvania is the worst offender. There, between 360 and 433 inmates have no hope of releasee because of crimes they committed between the ages of 13 and 18. The nation now has more than 2 million people behind bars. Locking up juveniles for life without parole is unfair and a poor use of criminal justice resources, says the Times, concluding that states “should rethink this misguided policy.”