The Iowa Supreme Court has banned sentencing youth under age 18 to life without parole, saying the sentence is unconstitutional because it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
The New York Times reports that Iowa’s ruling is the latest in a national trend toward criminal justice reform for youth. In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has banned the death penalty for youth and ruled that sentences of life without parole for juvenile cases must be determined on an individual basis. At the state level, Iowa is now the 19th state to ban juvenile life without parole.
“The courts and state legislatures alike have agreed that life without any chance of parole is an inappropriate sentence for a child,” said Joshua Rovner, who focuses on juvenile crime for The Sentencing Project, a Washington-based nonprofit group that lobbies for reduced sentences in juvenile and drug cases. “There is a widespread understanding now, with scientific research backing up our own common sense, that juveniles are not adults, and shouldn’t be treated that way. Adolescence is not a permanent condition, and the courts are recognizing this.”
Read the full article on the New York Times.