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Jamal Greene on juvenile justice and the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court last week narrowed the circumstances under which juveniles could be sentenced to life in prison, saying the crimes must involve murder. Justices relied on a modern interpretation of the “cruel and unusual” provision of the Eighth Amendment, over the strong objections of the “originalists” on the court.

The case, Graham v. Florida, centered in part on two questions: whether adolescents change as they mature; and whether society should update its understanding of constitutional principles in light of modern advances in morality and science.

To get some perspective on these issues, as well as on the specific circumstances of Joe Sullivan, one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case, Need to Know spoke with Jamal Greene, a professor at the Columbia University School of Law and former clerk for Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the concurring opinion in the Graham case.

Related stories:
Imprisoning teenagers for life
Five things you need to know about: Juvenile life sentences

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  • alicia

    I fill that a child should have some sort of punishment for there action’s.But not as harsh as of a punishment of an adult.Children think they can abide by there own rule’s and they don’t understand that there are consequences for the wrong thing’s they think they can get away with.They are given chances after chances with what they do but when it all comes down to it and they are facing year’s that’s when they realize what is right and what is wrong.we are all equal to the same right’s where all human being’s. THANK YOU for your time.