Juvenile Sentencing Reform in a Constitutional Framework
Volume 88, No. 4, Summer 2016
By Elizabeth Scott, Harold R. Medina Professor of Law, Columbia University; Thomas Grisso, Professor of Psychiatry (Clinical Psychology) Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Medical School; Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel, Juvenile Law Center; and Laurence Steinberg, Distinguished University Professor and Laura H. Carneal Professor of Psychology, Temple University [PDF]

In the past decade, the Supreme Court has transformed the constitutional landscape of juvenile crime regulation. In three strongly worded opinions, the Court held that imposing harsh criminal sentences on juvenile offenders violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The impact and reach of these developments in Eighth Amendment doctrine are particularly important because punitive law reforms in the 1990s brought into the adult justice system many youths who previously would have been processed in the separate, more lenient juvenile system. This Article addresses the key issues facing courts and legislatures under this new constitutional regime and provides guidance based on the Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment analysis and on the principles the Court has articulated.