Mandatory Juvenile Life without Parole Laws Term Paper by noripj

Mandatory Juvenile Life without Parole Laws
Looks at the Massachusetts' mandatory juvenile life without parole laws to be unconstitutional.
# 148914 | 8,105 words | 46 sources | MLA | 2011 | US
Published on Nov 14, 2011 in Law (Constitution) , Criminology (Juvenile Justice) , Child, Youth Issues (General)

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This paper argues that the Massachusetts' mandatory juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) laws are unconstitutional and unconscionable because they violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment" as well as the Fifth Amendment's due process rights. Next, the author investigates if the Massachusetts' JLWOP laws violate various international treaties and the Massachusetts Constitution and deems that they do go against these principles. The paper declares that these laws should be invalidated by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court or, alternatively, by the Supreme Court of the United States. MLA-style sources are in the footnotes.

Table of Contents:
Massachusetts' JLWOP Laws as Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Gravity of the Offense and Severity of the Sentence
Penological Justifications
Grossly Disproportionate
Objective Indicia of Society's Standards of Decency
National Consensus Against JLWOP
International Community Standards
Massachusetts' JLWOP Laws Violate International Treaty Obligations
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man
The Convention on the Rights of the Child

From the Paper:

"In addition to this, while it is arguably possible to "rehabilitate" juveniles in prison settings, insofar as their "capacities" can be restored, this does little to serve the primary rehabilitative function of "restoring them to useful life," which assumes their usefulness in society after release from prison. An integral part of rehabilitation in the penal context, then, is the meaningful opportunity of being released back into society in "good condition." And, as noted by the ACLU, "[p]unishing a youth offender with the longest prison sentence possible offer[s] no hope of rejoining society, little motivation of rehabilitation, and scant opportunities for learning." Thus, as many legal commentators have noted, such a sentence provides no meaningful rehabilitative function. And the failure of Massachusetts's JLWOP laws to further the fundamental aims of rehabilitation and deterrence "satisfactorily renders it unjustifiable in light of the ethical, social, and legal costs associated with its perpetuation."
As has been widely documented, the juvenile justice system, since its inception over a century ago, has been guided by the idea "that rehabilitation, not punishment, is the proper method for handling deviant behavior among youths."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • M.G.L.A. 265 1 (Murder defined);
  • M.G.L.A. 119 72B (Persons between the ages of fourteen and seventeen convicted of murder)
  • M.G.L.A. 265 2 (Punishment for murder; parole; executive clemency).
  • U.S.C.A. Const. Art. VIII.
  • Barry C. Feld, A Century of Juvenile Justice: A Work in Progress or a Revolution that Failed? 34 N. Ky. L. Rev. 189 (2007)

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

Mandatory Juvenile Life without Parole Laws (2011, November 14) Retrieved March 05, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Mandatory Juvenile Life without Parole Laws" 14 November 2011. Web. 05 March. 2021. <>