There is something seriously wrong with our criminal justice system here in Florida when it has more Life sentences than California, Texas, New York, Georgia, and Alabama... combined. There is also something seriously wrong with our National criminal justice system when the youngest offenders have to do the most time incarcerated out of all offenders when serving these Life sentences.
The least culpable/mentally undeveloped offenders are the ones that will have to be condemned to prison for 40-60 years, sometimes 20 years more than the fully developed adult. The scientific study that was instrumental in abolishing the "mandatory" Life Without Parole sentences for juvenile offenders (under the age of 18 years old) is the same scientific study that determined the mind is not fully developed until sometimes the age of 25.
In a day and age where immaturity goes deeper and deeper into the twenties the laws for juveniles should extend to youthful offenders as the distinct line of absoluteness is set at 25. None of the scientific determination said that the juvenile mind was absolutely fully developed at 18, so how can any court draw an imaginary line at 18 rather than 25?
Our world looks at some of the offenses committed by the young and does not think twice about whether they live or die. They, like the youth, have become desensitized from the inhumane. To give the most time in prison to the least culpable/mentally undeveloped should be deemed cruel and unusual punishment, as such irrational legislation dictates the youngest receives the greatest punishment.
The fully developed adult who comes into the prison system at the age of 38 may only have to do 20-30 years incarcerated before (s)he dies, whereas the youthful offender will have to do 40-60 years before (s)he dies. This alone should bring a "question of great public importance" to the forefront of the debate and should curtail the cruel and unusual practice of giving LWOP sentences to youthful offenders.
If it was any other subject outside the sensitivity of criminality, then the age requirements would extend to the scientific absoluteness of the study, and not to the ambiguity of it. Our law forbids legislative intent to reside in ambiguity, yet the line being set at under 18 years old does just that. It draws an ambiguous line in the middle of a factual study that sets the line of absoluteness at 25.
Furthermore, the law also forbids irrational legislation, and thus should forbid the irrational logic that gives the least undeveloped of our society the greatest punishment. There should be a specialized Judiciary Review Process for everyone who qualifies as a juvenile or youthful offender, so that the offender's upbringing, age, comprehension, mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense and the many other elements that establish the how and why the youth found himself committing a criminal act at such a young undeveloped age.
For cases that have already been closed and a Life sentence has been issued, they should go before a Post-Conviction Judiciary Review Process to look into how they have developed and matured while incarcerated. This will help the review board to gauge just how undeveloped or circumstantially mitigated the offender was at the time of their arrest.
When analyzing psychological/mental growth one cannot disregard past behavior in comparison to present behavior as it shows just how uncharacteristic an act was from the normal character of the youth, or how far he has come from who he was while in his youth. Both analysis are vital in diagnosing the state of mind from a hindsight perspective and both are vital in identifying how best to cultivate rehabilitative measures with each individual case.
The argument that the juvenile law should not be extended to the youthful offender who was 18-24, or at least 18-21 years old, is one that flys in the face of societal standards and the scientific study the Courts used to determine the juvenile law banning mandatory Life sentences for those under 18. There is something fundamentally wrong when someone who is 18 years old can't go to a bar or buy a beer... but they can get a Life sentence.
We, here at Society-First, ask you to send us your thoughts, testimonies and solutions concerning the practice of giving LWOP sentences to juveniles and youthful offenders. Is our country beyond forgiving the youngest offenders who have shown remorse and rehabilitation from a crime that depicts more of who they are not, than who they are?