Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Experts link teen brains' immaturity, juvenile crime

In 2005, the Supreme Court decided that sentencing minors to death is unconstitutional. USA Today reports that many states are taking a new stance on teen offenders based on the ruling.
"As any parent knows," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the 5-4 majority, youths are more likely to show "a lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility" than adults. "... These qualities often result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions."

Now that juvenile crime is down, states are focusing on rehabilitation.

But crimes don't usually occur in rehab, they occur out in society - when teens are in the care of parents or relatives. Should juvenile offenders go back home, go into state custody, or foster care? What environment will best support their rehabilitation? Should we sentence violent teens to life without parole?

I'm all for rehab (and abolishing the death penalty entirely), but the U.S. needs to protect it's citizens and the rule of law. So let's err on the side of caution... don't release teen offenders if they are going back into an environment where they might re-offend.

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