The Supreme Court ruled on Jan. 25, 2016, in Montgomery v. Louisiana that those
sentenced as teenagers to mandatory life imprisonment without parole
must have a chance to argue that they be released from prison. Justice Kennedy,
writing for the majority, stated that the 2012 decision in Miller v.
Alabama, which prohibited mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders,
is a substantive rule of constitutional law, and thus
applies retroactively. The Court further stated that a state may remedy a
Miller violation by extending parole eligibility to juvenile offenders, giving
someone like Montgomery, an opportunity to show "that children who commit
even heinous crimes are capable of change."
Click here to find a new resource brief entitled, What Juvenile Defenders Should Know about the DSM-5. This brief is intended to support juvenile defense advocacy by providing an overview of some of the most recent revisions in the latest version of the DSM (a classification manual for mental health professionals with itemized criteria for diagnosing disorders), as well as recommendations and implications for juvenile defense practice.
Juvenile defenders who are knowledgeable about the DSM are better prepared to advocate for and against diagnoses of their young clients. Defenders further enhance their advocacy when they insist that evaluators specifically identify the symptoms behind youth's behaviors, as well as the services and supports necessary to address those symptoms in school, at home, in secure placement, and in the community. The DSM has always been relevant to juvenile defenders to the extent that DSM diagnoses drive decisions in juvenile court, yet juvenile defenders may be unfamiliar with the latest revisions to diagnoses and diagnostic criteria and how to manage the ways they are used in the court context.
Marsha Levick, , Jessica Feierman, , Sharon M. Kelley, & Naomi E. Goldstein, The Eighth Amendment Evolves: Defining Cruel and Unusual Punishment through the Lens of Childhood and Adolescence, 15 U. Pa. J.L. & Soc. Change 285 (2012).
Available at: http://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/jlasc/vol15/iss3/1
Delinquency Cases in Juvenile Court, 2009 presents statistics on delinquency cases that U.S. courts with juvenile jurisdiction processed for public order, person, and property offenses and drug law violations between 1985 and 2009.
Steinberg, Laurence; Scott, Elizabeth S., “Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence: Developmental Immaturity, Diminished Responsibility, and the Juvenile Death Penalty,” American Psychologist, Vol. 58(12), Dec 2003, 1009-1018.
Abstract: The authors use a developmental perspective to examine questions about the criminal culpability of juveniles and the juvenile death penalty. Under principles of criminal law, culpability is mitigated when the actor's decision-making capacity is diminished, when the criminal act was coerced, or when the act was out of character. The authors argue that juveniles should not be held to the same standards of criminal responsibility as adults, because adolescents' decision-making capacity is diminished, they are less able to resist coercive influence, and their character is still undergoing change. The uniqueness of immaturity as a mitigating condition argues for a commitment to a legal environment under which most youths are dealt with in a separate justice system and none are eligible for capital punishment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)