A recent decision that makes it easier to sentence children to life without parole ignores what we know about the prefrontal cortex
By Daniel Weinberger on May 24, 2021
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Jones v. Mississippi makes it easier for judges to sentence children to life in prison with no chance of parole.
After 15 years of decisions that placed limits on the sentences given to juvenile offenders convicted of violent crimes, the Court reversed course in a profoundly antiscience decision written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The murderer in this case had just turned 15. This new ruling claims that the early teen years cast the die for how someone is likely to behave for the rest of their lives.
When criticizing this decision, legal pundits have been entranced by stare decisis, the legal doctrine that states a court will abide by precedent. But this argument woefully ignores the neuroscience that explains why juveniles should not be treated like adults—the very scientific evidence that influenced and guided previous court decisions