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California State University Life Terms for Juvenile Offenders Discussion

California State University Life Terms for Juvenile Offenders Discussion

Question Description

Writing Assignment

On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles who

committed murder could not be sentenced to life in prison because it violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual

punishment. Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority, stated that “Mandatory life without parole for a juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features—among them,

immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and

consequences. It prevents taking into account the family and home environment that surrounds him— and from which he cannot usually extricate himself—no matter how brutal or dysfunctional.”

However, four justices strongly disagreed, arguing that mandatory

sentences reflected the will of American society that heinous crimes committed by juveniles should always be punished with a sentence to life in prison. Justice Alito noted that otherwise, “Even a 17

½-year-old who sets off a bomb in a crowded mall or guns down a dozen students and teachers is a ‘child’ and must be given a chance to persuade a judge to permit his release into society…”

Write an essay analyzing the issues raised by these arguments. Be sure to indicate which side you most strongly agree with. Support your position, providing reasons and examples from your own experience and observations, discussions you have participated in, and texts you have read for this module. Your essay should be as clearly focused, well organized, and carefully written as you can make it.

Questions such as the ones below will help you plan what you want to say before you begin to draft your essay.

  • Do you agree with the majority of Supreme Court justices who argued to abolish mandatory life in prison for juveniles who commit murder or with the minority who argued to retain it?
  • Guidelines for Developing Thesis Statements

  • A thesis reflects the writer’s position on a question that has more than one side. After reading the thesis, the reader should be able to explain what the issue is and what side of the argument the writer is on.
  • Develop a thesis statement that makes the topic and your opinion or position on the topic clear to your reader.
  • Choose one side of the issue if your topic requires it, but you may qualify your position.
  • If the topic asks “to what extent” you agree or disagree with a statement, be sure to explain how strongly you agree or disagree. You may include a “because” statement, but you do not need to list all the reasons for your position.
  • Neither a factual statement nor a question makes an effective thesis because they do not reflect the writer’s position on the issue.
  • Using the Words of Others

    One of the most important features of academic writing is the use of words and ideas from written sources to support the writer’s own points. Presented here are five ways to incorporate words and ideas from sources:

    1. Direct quotation. According to Paul Thompson, brain researchers have discovered to their surprise that, “a massive loss of brain tissue occurs in the teen years.”

    2. Paraphrase. In “Startling Finds on Teenage Brains,” Thompson notes that young people actually lose a large amount of brain tissue during their teen years.

    3. Summary. In “Startling Finds on Teenage Brains,” Thompson summarizes recent research that shows teenagers actually lose a large amount of brain tissue, a finding that may explain their impulsive and violent behavior. Such changes in the brain do not mean that teens are not responsible for their violent behavior, but Thompson believes they should not be treated as adults in the criminal justice system.

    4. Source within another text. Garinger cites the Supreme Court ruling in 2005 which asserted that juvenile offenders, “are less mature, more vulnerable to peer pressure, cannot escape from dangerous environments, and their characters are still in formation.”

    5. Explaining the significance. Concurring with Thompson, Garinger observes that brain research shows that “the regions of the adolescent brain responsible for controlling thoughts, action and emotions are not fully developed.” It is clear that

    they should have a chance as adults to make the case that they have matured and become law-abiding citizens who deserve to be released from prison.

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