As a group of law students, we learn about the laws and policies that affect youth in all respects, and we understand that supporting youth means working towards the best outcomes in and out of the classroom. With this being said, we are happy to report two big “wins” for juvenile justice this week.
First, the Supreme Court of the United States announced on Monday in Montgomery v. Lousiana, that the holding in Miller v. Alabama, which stated juvenile life without parole sentences are unconstitutional, applies retroactively. This ruling could apply to many individuals who were serving juvenile life without parole sentences when Miller v. Alabama came out, and it was still unclear if the ruling would apply retroactively.
This ruling is another in a group of cases demonstrating that youth are different from adults and that laws and policies should treat them as such. Other cases include Graham v. Florida, which held a juvenile life without parole sentence for a crime that did not involve homicide is unconstitutional, and Roper v. Simmons, which held a juvenile death sentence is unconstitutional. In addition to the Supreme Court making strides in juvenile justice, on Monday President Obama announced a ban on the use of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons (read more here).
Collectively, these instances demonstrate youth are important and deserve laws and policies that support them and respect the fact that they are different from adults. We are thankful for juvenile justice advocates who fight to support youth, and for teachers, administrators, policy makers, and organizers who fight for students and for equitable education. These are shared fights and those working for, on behalf and with youth everywhere make the movement stronger. Thank you!
Posted by Haley DiRenzo