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Reaction Essay: Juvenile Sentencing

Reaction Essay: Juvenile Sentencing

This week’s reading material(s) included an article titled ‘Does Sentencing a Juvenile to Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole Constitute Cruel and Unusual Punishment?’ written by editor Thomas Hickey. ‘The article, originally written in 2012, seeks to unravel the mystery of sentencing juveniles versus adults, to spark discussion about the differences between the two, and to also beg the question of whether or not sentencing a juvenile to a mandatory life term without the possibility of parole ‘forswears the rehabilitative ideal’ and demonstrates an ‘irrevocable judgment about an offender’s value and place in society’ (Hickey, 2021). The article also includes Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and John Roberts’s opinions. Justice Kagan contends that imprisoning offenders for life without the possibility of parole for crimes committed as juveniles violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eight Amendment, whereas Justice Roberts contends that the calculation and determination of appropriate punishments for crimes should be left to the legislative branch of government and that imprisoning offenders for life without the possibility of parole do not constitute as cruel and unusual punishment (Hickey, 2021).

In response to this article, I must admit that, while I found it most interesting, especially the historical aspects and goals of US sentencing policy, as well as the dichotomy and congruence in Kagan and Robert’s arguments, the content made me uneasy. These feelings are not related to personal insecurity but to concern for my country and the world. Yes, I believe there is always hope while Christ is seated on His throne, and He will always be seated there. However, the arguments presented allow us to see not only ‘broken systems’ and ‘dilapidated justice’ but also the essence of the human condition and cognition. We have used and continue to use a ‘one size fits all’ mentality in our efforts to bring about change in society and among global members; this does not work. To be clear, the point of my words is not to support either Kagan or Robert’s viewpoints but to draw attention to the brokenness that may exist within our culture(s) even when attempting to do good, protect others, or serve ‘the people.’

I previously mentioned that after reading the provided article by Thomas Hickey, I felt uneasy because an article like this could be described as the ‘pain,’ which, when given appropriate attention, allows the ‘body’ to take notice, to take care, so that change can be introduced. While I didn’t find this article particularly upbeat, what I did find encouraging is that Christ is never hopeless, and thus I have no right to be either.

Many lives have been significantly and negatively impacted by the United States sentencing system, but there are countless more who will require our assistance in the future as we navigate our professions. This type of information may elicit feelings of disappointment, unease, anger, and fear, but just as the article may be viewed and used as a signal for change, so may the accompanying emotions, which may lead us to better ideas, etc. because this is part of what we are expected to do as Christ’s followers.

We allow ourselves to be held to new and Christ-like standards when we choose Christ and continually give ourselves over to the Utmost. While we will never achieve perfection during our earthly lives, we must conduct ourselves in the manner of Christ and then apply this to our vocations, relationships, and destinies. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most well-known Bible verses, stating, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (ESV, 2021, Jeremiah 29:11). This scripture not only gives us personal hope as followers of Christ, but it also shows us how we can work with God to help bring aid and welfare to the world around us, i.e., The sentencing policy in the United States.

In summary, I strongly recommend Hickey’s article, ‘Does Sentence of a Juvenile to Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole Constitute Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

‘An article like this one gives readers a glimpse into the structures and systems in place in our country, giving them the opportunity to apply faith and Biblical reasoning to better their lives. As Christians, we simply cannot avoid the complicated or perplexing. Because while we are not Christ, we ‘carry’ Him within/in us, and as a result, we have a responsibility to ‘enter the trenches’ and bring our best to the world that He created.

References A searchable online Bible in over 150 versions and 50 languages. (2021b). BibleGateway. Retrieved November 11, 2021, from (2021). Psychology of Criminal Behavior. McGraw-Hill



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This assignment is designed to help you think critically and effectively about current criminal
justice topics in our society and beyond.

Juvenile Sentencing

Reaction Essay:Juvenile Sentencing

In this assignment, you will write a 2-3 page reaction paper on Article 19 in your supplemental
text, Does Sentencing a Juvenile to Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole Constitute
Cruel and Unusual Punishment? This article includes the introductory summary by the editor
Thomas Hickey, the dissenting opinions by the Supreme Court Justices Kagan and Roberts, and
the framing summary by Hickey entitled Exploring the Issue.

Part 1 – Summary
o This should contain the author’s name, the name of the article reviewed, and
the publication date.

Write an informative summary of the material by condensing and highlighting
only the main points, using quotations from the article to illustrate them as
necessary.o, Keep this section factual and objective, summarizing only so the reader gets a
general sense of the key points in the article.

● Part 2 – Reaction

This section should contain three paragraphs, each of which focuses on one main
the idea that illustrates and contributes to our understanding of punishment, and the
role of pro-criminal and delinquent associates in committing a crime (Chapter 6 in
Bonta and Andrews).
o At a minimum, each paragraph should contain your reaction to the following:
How is this article specifically related to current problems in our country
and world?
What emotions did this article arouse in you, and how is this related to
your observations and experiences?
What role does your identity as a Christian play in these emotions and
Would you recommend this article to others, and why or why not?
Support each point with reason and details
Your paper should be written in the current APA format, Title page, the body of the paper, and
Edit carefully for grammar, spelling, and word use.
Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool.

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