In Chapter 5 of the textbook, the author examines retributive justice from the standpoint of the means of punishment (Section 5.2). He calls attention to the length of prison sentences and, in particular, the issue of mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders.
In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declared laws that require judges to impose life-without-parole sentences for juveniles to be in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments.” The decision (Miller v. Alabama) was a 5-4 split in the Court – which is typical of many such decisions that apply the cruel and unusual punishment provision.
Your initial post must analyze the retributive justice issues of mandatory, life-without-parole sentences. Consider the facts of Miller v. Alabama: Defendant Miller, a 14-year old boy, with an accomplice beat the victim with a baseball bat and set his trailer on fire with the victim inside. Defendant Miller was tried as an adult for capital murder while committing arson.
Is a mandatory, life-without-parole sentence just in such circumstances? Remember that “just” may or may not be the same as “constitutional." Summarize both the pros and the cons of your answer to this question, and critically evaluate these pros and cons, applying principles of retributive justice discussed in the text. Your evaluation must respond to the pros and cons, giving persuasive reasons why you agree with some and disagree with some.
Your initial post should be at least 300 words in length. Support your claims with examples from at least two of the required resources for this discussion, and properly cite any references. Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts by Day 7 whose viewpoints are different from yours. Each peer response must be at least 125 words. Stimulate critical thinking by contrasting your perspective with your classmate's and explaining yours, or by asking your classmate a question and explaining why your question is significant.