Adult Time for Adult Crime: The U.S. Has a Juvenile Crime Problem

Cully Stimson /

The U.S. Has a Juvenile Crime Problem
Underlying nearly every argument made by opponents of life without parole for juvenile offenders is the premise that, because many other countries have not authorized or have repealed the sentence, the United States should do the same so that it can be in conformance with the international “consensus” on the matter.

In fact, this premise is the cornerstone of the litigation strategy to extend the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishments” to reach life-without-parole sentences for juveniles. This application of foreign sources of law to determine domestic law, in addition to being legally problematic, too often overlooks the qualitative differences between the United States and other countries.

This has certainly been the case in the debate over life without parole for juvenile offenders. The leading reports on the issue do not grapple seriously with the facts concerning juvenile crime and how those facts differ between nations. Instead, they play a crude counting game, tallying up nations while ignoring the realities of their circumstances and juvenile justice systems.

The Facts on Worldwide Crime and Sentencing