Author Information

Kallee Spooner


The purpose of this paper is to analyze data, policy trends, and legal concerns on the issue of sentencing juvenile offenders to life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). Policy changes in the 1980s and 90s dramatically changed the sentencing outcomes for juvenile offenders. Significantly departing from the rehabilitative goals established by the juvenile court, states adopted harsher punishments, including LWOP. During this shift, the diminished culpability of youth became insignificant when compared to the nature of their crimes. The recent cases of Roper v. Simmons (2005) and Graham v. Florida (2010) reinstated the importance of recognizing that juveniles are different from adults, and accordingly should not be subjected to the same punishments. In light of these decisions, the constitutionality of sentencing juveniles to LWOP will be addressed.

Note on the Author

Kallee Spooner is a senior majoring in criminal justice and philosophy. This research was conducted in the summer of 2011 under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Wright and was funded by an Adrian Tinsley Program (ATP) summer research grant.

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