While Juvenile Criminals should not be Punished with Life Imprisonment

How do you feel about sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment? In the years 1985/1986 in Michigan they started a Mandatory Minimum Sentence program for drug offences. This law was placed in situ in order to put out a loud and clear message to those who dealt in drugs in the state. At the time, their hope was to capture major criminals in the drug-trafficking trade and keep them locked-away forever. Any person found carrying over 650 gramms of drugs on their person would receive a life sentence.

However, sometimes laws can be faulted especially in the case of a 17 year old male who was caught in possession of 650 gramms and was tried and sentenced under the Mandatory Mimimum Law. This kid was sitting in a house with another man who turned out to have a very lengthy record of drug offences and who claimed that the drugs were not his but those of the kid in question.

The kid was a regular school goer,was a hard-working student and generally a quiet young man by all accounts. He was charged one week after graduation with possession of 650 gramms and sentenced to life in prison with no parole. It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time as it was proven afterwards that the drugs were not his at all and belonged to an older man who was not even at the scene of the crime at the time.

In the 1990’s a young white male was arrested was arrested and given life in prison without parole. His parents were financially capable of mounting a campaign against his sentence and were successful. He had his sentence reduced to 15 years. He was one of the luckier kids as there are thousands locked up for a first offence.

Whilst I totally agree that drug-traffickers should face the full wrath of the law however, with regard to the above cases, surely there must be a little room for improvement in the law. Remember, these kids are not old enough to vote, not old enough to take a drink nor are they old enough to join the military. Surely they could be sent for treatment in order to rectify perhaps their first mistake. Locking them in prison with no chance of parole, throwing away their key to life, surely as a civilized society we can do better for our kids.