Brigham Young University Prelaw Review


Juvenile sentencing, Eighth Amendment, Graham v. Florida, Miller v. Alabama, Roper v. Simmons, meaningful opportunity for release, juvenile justice, cruel and unusual, punishment, Constitutional law


Using the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court has made sweeping changes to juvenile sentencing in the last fifteen years. The Court has stated that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole and life sentences without the possibility of parole for non-homicide offenders are unconstitutional. Nevertheless, there are still unanswered questions in juvenile sentencing. One under-researched aspect of this is the role that lengthy minimum parole requirements play in the constitutionality of juvenile sentencing. This type of sentencing lacks express legislative support, it does not have a legitimate penological justification, and it denies juveniles a meaningful opportunity for release. Using the reasoning in Roper, Graham, and Miller, the Court should hold that lengthy minimum parole requirements are unconstitutional. As such, the Court should adopt a categorical rule against minimum parole requirements over thirty years.