According to Siegler and Sullivan (2010), juvenile courts have been perceived as a center for community worry concerning the escalating rates of crime conducted by juveniles and violence. This alarm raised by the community has resulted in the amendments of crime jurisdictions in juvenile courts. Some legislative and executives in 41 various states have avoided the juvenile court’s jurisdiction concerning issues of chronic, brutal, and stern criminals as from the year 1992. This has changed the viewpoint of the court from the recuperative custom of handling the criminals instead of the felony, to a more penalizing system centered on the felony itself. For instance, there were fourteen states, which had changed their codes to include the public’s safety by 1991 as a validation of the juvenile system. Today, there are about twenty-nine states that have listed the offender’s penalty as either key or minor for the juveniles. In addition, from 1993, only ten states have not created or modified laws to simplify the process of arraigning minors in adult courts. Most of the time, a minor judgment conducted in an adult criminal court, results in exposing the minor to chances of conviction in state prison.
Terrance, who is the petitioner, in this case, was aged only sixteen when he committed armed robbery and another felony. Under an appeal accord, the trial court referred the petitioner to probation adjudication. Afterward, the court discovered that the petitioner had violated the terms of his probation by committing extra felonies. The trial court withdrew his probation and punished him to life imprisonment for the crime. Given that Florida had done away with its parole system, the sentence gave the petitioner no chance of release. Terrance tried to challenge his sentence under Unusual Punishment Clauses and the 8th Amendment’s Cruel, but the court rejected it.
Juvenile courts have the capability of shifting teenagers to the adult system, though the escalation in juvenile crimes during the 1980s and 1990s pushed the states to use compulsory sentencing rules for particular crimes and lower the age at which a juvenile can be convicted to an adult court. Most of the states normally take minor-aged seventeen and above to the adult system. This plainly points out that juvenile cases are hard-pressed to fall in line with adult cases.
In Roper v. Simmons, which took place in the year 2005, the Supreme Court asserted that the 8th and 14th amendments barred a death penalty imposed for a juvenile below eighteen years of age, overruling Kentucky vs. Stanford (Siegler & Sullivan, 2010). In Terrance v. Florida, which occurred five years later, the court was requested to extend Roper and declare that the amendment as well disallows sentencing the minors to life imprisonment without the alternative of parole in a non-murder case. The court ruled that the 8th amendment prohibited such sentences, but in so doing, the court issued a decision that is past the confines of the 8th amendment jurisprudence.
Before the Terrance decision’s argument is made, it is important to understand how immaterial death penalty decisions are compared to sentencing analysis that does not engage the death penalty. “Death is different” is a standard of the jurisprudence’s amendment since 1972 when the court endorsed that death punishment violates the constitution apart from those situations that are defined carefully (Siegler & Sullivan, 2010). This means that crimes, which are capital, should be evaluated with careful scrutiny. Therefore, the extension of Roper in the Terrance case means that the constitution’s extension requires that a minor sentence that does not engage the death penalty should as well be carefully scrutinized. Terrance brings about two key questions that are reliant on the jurisprudence of the court in the 8th amendment from the perspective of non-juvenile. First, the court makes a decision if a sentence is absolutely barred for its contradiction with the principles of decency that describes the progression of a growing society by examining if there is a common accord against the practice of sentencing at hand. In addition, the court makes a decision whether the punishment infringes the constitution. This part of the evaluation carried great weight in the Terrance case. The fact that sentencing juveniles in prison without having the opportunity of parole for those a crime that does not involve homicide is absolutely forbidden. Terrance created a way for new amendment jurisprudence grounds, which had initially restricted the definite prevention of sentences purely to the death penalty.
In a different point of inquiry, the court makes a decision on its own as to whether the punishment infringes the constitution. As Justice Kennedy elucidates in Roper, regardless of any argued national tendency, “the obligation of interpreting the amendment continues to be our duty” (Siegler & Sullivan, 2010). In working in line with these responsibilities, the assignment of the court is to observe carefully the blameworthiness of the criminals together with their penalty sternness in question. In addition, the court makes a decision of whether the sentencing practices offer legitimate constitutional reasons. Probably the greatest feature of the court’s ruling in Terrance is that the court borrowed all the concluding ideas.
The constitution should prohibit juvenile life imprisonment with no parole for non-murders for various reasons. One, the minors have an immature sense of responsibility. Secondly, they are more prone to negative forces and external influences. Finally, their character is not well-formed. Therefore, a minor offense, whether it is serious or irrelevant should not be decently blamed as a grown-up offense.
Siegler, A. & Sullivan, B. (2010). “‘Death Is Different’No Longer”: Graham v Florida and the
Future of Eighth Amendment Challenges to Noncapital Sentences. Supreme Court Review, 2010 (1), pp. 327–380.