In most states, juveniles may receive the sentence of life without the possibility of parole when convicted in adult court. Scientific research has shown, however, that the brains of juveniles are different from those of adults. Citing this research, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the 2005 case of Raper v. Simmons that sentencing juveniles to the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment due to their reduced culpability. Applying the reasoning of Raper, this Note argues that sentencing juveniles to life without parole violates the Eighth Amendment on its face. In the alternative, it argues that the sentence violates the Eighth Amendment as applied in certain cases. In addition, this Note presents policy arguments for the abolition of the sentence by state and federal legislatures.
Hillary J. Massey, Disposing of Children: The Eighth Amendment and Juvenile Life Without Parole After Roper, 47 B.C.L. Rev. 1083 (2006), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol47/iss5/4