Life Without Parole for Juveniles: A Brief Look at the Issues

Tuesday the Supreme Court will take up the issue of life sentences without parole (LWOP) for juveniles convicted of murder. In 2010, the nation’s high court ruled juvenile LWOP sentences were unconstitutional in non-homicide crimes. Now, advocates are hopeful the court will extend the same protection to all juveniles, regardless of the offense.

Pointing to research indicating that brains continue to develop into the early 20s, some groups, including the American Bar Association, argue juveniles are uniquely suited to rehabilitation and that a life sentence without the possibility of parole is a violation of the Eighth and 14th Amendments’ prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments.

Juvenile LWOP sentences are, in fact, very rare, especially for 14-year-olds, the age of both juveniles sentenced in the two cases before the court. Jennifer Jenkins, President of the National Organization for Victims of Juvenile Lifers, a group advocating on behalf of crime victims and their families, describes the cases as ‘outliers’ and says that’s precisely why the justices should uphold the constitutionality of juvenile LWOP sentences. NOVJL submitted an amicus brief to the court reflecting that position.

“…[T]hese cases currently before the Supreme Court represent efforts by advocates for the offenders to go after the ‘outliers’ in this issue,” Jenkins wrote in a statement to JJIE. “Ninety percent of all cases of juveniles tried and sentenced to natural life as adults for their exceptionally heinous crimes are 16 and 17-years-old.”

But Randee Waldman, director of the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory University School of Law, in Atlanta believes the sentence is cruel and unusual because of how rarely it is applied.

“There are very few 13 or 14-year-olds serving life without parole,” she said. “It’s disproportionately used. That’s why it is unusual.”

Human rights watchdogs are taking an international view of the issue because the United States is one of only two countries in the world, along with Somalia, that has not signed the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child that prohibits juvenile LWOP.

“At the most basic level the sentence of LWOP for those convicted under 18 years old… is clearly in violation of international law,” Elizabeth Calvin, Senior Advocate for Human Rights Watch and LWOP Coordinator, told JJIE in July 2011. “I think we’re at a point in time where the community doesn’t think over-incarceration is the way to go.”

Amnesty International USA is also seeking a ruling from the court striking down juvenile LWOP sentences. As part of their awareness campaign the group produced an infographic highlighting some of the demographics of juvenile LWOP sentencing.

Courtesy Amnesty International USA.

The Flipped Classroom and the Changing Role of the Educator? [infographic]

It’s no secret that technology is reshaping the educational landscape, but how exactly?

This infographic from Knewton and Column Five Media offers a rather visual look at one new model of education. In the ‘flipped classroom’ no longer do teachers feel the ‘sage of the stage’ role, lecturing for hours on end, but instead shift to helper bee as a ‘guide on the side.’ Class time can be reserved for hands-on activities and problem solving, while internet-based video lecturers are the new homework.

The statistics look promising, representing a substantial increase in performance by college freshman.

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media. does not endorse the services of either company or their affiliates.

Visualizing ‘Generation Text’ [infographic]

“How would you feel if you couldn’t text for a day?” Lab 42, a company that specializes in custom surveys, market research and data visualization, asked a survey group of American teenagers. The teens weren’t too concerned. After all, they would still have Facebook.

Texting isn’t exactly new and isn’t limited to a single demographic, but for this infographic the surveyors decided to take a sample from 500 leading textperts – today’s teens – through the use of social media networks. The survey resulted in some interesting findings. Check out the image below for the complete results.

The sample group consisted of 500 American teens between the age of 13 and 21. Lab 42 uses “third party survey software” and cross-references survey data with the participant’s social networking accounts to ensure the validity of data. While the company doesn’t publish their complete methodology online additional information is available by contacting


Generation Text: Teens & Their Texting Habits Inforgraphic by Lab42



May 06, 2011

Read up:

Governor Deal (GA) signs Human Trafficking bill into law:

OJJDP census of kids on probation:

CDC teen pregnancy stats 1991-2009 [infographic]:

Justice Department report sheds light on human trafficking stats:

Youth Justice Barbecue celebrates year of progress:

Host: Ryan Schill
Video: Clay Duda

Teen Pregnancy: 1991-2009 [infographic]

Teen pregnancy statistics from the CDC


Juvenile Sex Offenders [INFOGRAPHIC]

The OJJDP released a report titled “Juveniles Who Commit Sex Offenses Against Minors.” The following infographic is a breakdown of some of the statistics from the report. What can you glean from this data? Is this a problem that needs more attention? How should these crimes be handled? Join the conversation on Twitter and or Facebook.

Juvenile Sex Offender Stats