State

Teen punishment ruling wise

Excerpted from Wednesday's Philadelphia Inquirer:

The Supreme Court took a proper step Monday in seeking the right balance when judges sentence juveniles convicted of brutal crimes.

The court ruled that juveniles who commit crimes in which no one is killed shouldn't be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It was the second major decision from the court in recent years regarding punishment of teens. In 2005, the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for juveniles.

The court agrees with the emerging science that says teen brains are less developed than adults'. As such, teens are more susceptible to peer pressure, and less able to make good decisions.

While the crimes at issue are often very heinous, teens also stand a better chance to be rehabilitated with the passage of time and maturity. That's not to say every teen should eventually be set free. But all should at least be given a chance to show they have learned their lesson.

That is essentially what Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.

The ruling supports the Eighth Amendment's protection against harsh punishment and is in line with the country's "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society." The ruling is also in line with the judicial standards for much of the free world.

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