Books for the News

Harcourt Argues for Parole for Juvenile Offenders in LA Times

This term, the Supreme Court will hear two cases from Florida that call into the question the practice of punishing juvenile offenders with life sentences without the possibility of parole. Bernard E. Harcourt, a professor of law and of political science at the University of Chicago and author of the two books published by the University of Chicago Press—Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy and Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age—published an op-ed piece in this morning’s Los Angeles Times calling for the abolition of this practice. He writes:

A 2005 ruling that held the juvenile death penalty unconstitutional, and [the court should] similarly draw a bright line at 18 years of age for imposing life sentences without parole.… The tough-on-crime rhetoric of “lock ’em up and throw away the key” is entirely inappropriate in the case of children. Children’s brains, bodies and personalities are still in the process of growing and changing. And many experts in neuroscience and psychology believe that the same changeability that makes young people vulnerable to negative influences and peer pressure also makes them good candidates for reform and rehabilitation.… Juvenile offenders should be given the opportunity to have their sentences reviewed later in life.

For more from Harcourt, be sure to check out his publications from the Press as well as his comprehensive website to learn more about the thinking behind his opinions.