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About that Supreme Court ruling on juvenile lifer sentences

by: Eric B.

Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 09:54:33 AM EDT

Prolly most of you, being plugged in and shit, heard about the state Supreme Court's ruling that when the U.S. Supreme Court said that life sentences without the chance of parole couldn't be given to children that they didn't mean people already in prison. Jack Lessenberry has a very good take on it.

Well, I am not an attorney, but here’s a prediction. In due course, the federal courts will overturn yesterday’s state supreme court ruling; they can hardly do otherwise. Something is either constitutional or it is not. Federal law trumps state law.

Apart from that, this ruling is, besides unjust, irrationally stupid in that it will cost the taxpayers needlessly. Michigan is being drowned by the cost of our prisons – more than two billion a year.

Cost is certainly part of it. The entire "get tough on crime" nonsense from the 90s -- something that had minimal impact on crime in the first place and in second place was just a knee-jerk "I am angry, therefore you have no value" reaction -- came with a pricetag that no one thought through at the time. But, beyond that, putting someone who hasn't reached maturity yet without a chance of them ever getting out is the very definition of inhumane.

It's not something that a civilized people would think is a good idea, and it leaves us poorly positioned to criticize others for their human rights abuses ... like coercing children into fighting for them. I mean, a couple of years ago, I worked with a guy who moved here from Sudan after having been pressed into service as a child soldier (well, he was a teenager). The difference between him and the people we lock up for life is that he had a chance after being pressed into service to get out and make something out of himself. Our juvenile lifers have simply been put into a storage unit.

Eric B. :: About that Supreme Court ruling on juvenile lifer sentences
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Our prisons
are focused exclusively on punishment. There's very little in the way of "correction" going on.

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