Juveniles in Mississippi who commit serious crimes are finding themselves facing life in prison despite recommendations from the state Supreme Court. Despite the young age of these offenders, many courts in the state continue to hand down this harsh penalty.
This leaves some local lawmakers to wonder why so few of these juveniles seem to lack support for rehabilitation instead of a life behind bars.
A ruling re-examined
According to the Pulitzer Center, the question of whether juveniles should face life in prison resurfaced last week, when the state Supreme Court changed a verdict for a young offender who committed the murder of a family member in 2012, despite recommendations that this punishment may not be the answer for all juvenile offenders. Although the high courts changed the youth’s sentence to life without parole, those who challenge this common Mississippi ruling believe it should not apply to those who are not likely to repeat an offense.
A question of incorrigibility
Some local lawmakers and critics of this common ruling for young offenders question whether the matter of incorrigibility should play a part in these cases. They also wonder how to gauge whether those convicted would thrive after programs such as youth court. Others believe that these young people can change while in prison. They should receive the opportunity to prove that they can turn their lives around by pursuing an education and participating in other programs that may improve their situation.
Young people in Mississippi who commit serious crimes are more likely to face life in prison than in other states. While some data shows that race and the courts’ views of the offenders’ degree of remorse may play a part in this issue, some lawmakers believe it may be time to revisit the reasons behind these rulings.