Life without parole for the very worst juvenile offenders is reasonable, constitutional, and (appropriately) rare, argues the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank. In response to the Western world's worst juvenile crime problem, says Heritage, 43 states plus the District of Columbia authorize life without parole. Heritage contends that its “viability is at risk from misleading lobbying efforts in many states and court cases that seek to substitute international law for legislative judgments and constitutional text.”
Citing the Supreme Court case that relied on the Constitution’s “cruel and unusual punishments” language to prohibit capital sentences for juveniles, activists are trying to extend the case’s result to life without parole. Heritage maintains that activists have monopolized the debate over life without parole, misleading legislatures, courts, the media, and the public. Heritage says that dozens of newspaper articles, television reports, and court briefs have echoed the activists' assertion that 2,225 juvenile offenders are serving life without parole sentences in the United States, despite that this figure is nothing more than a manufactured statistic. Heritage says it issued its report to set the record straight.