Unit 4 Project: Letter to the Editor
October 24, 2009
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
I am writing this letter in response to the article by Alan K. Simpson entitled, “A Sentence too Cruel for Children.” Simpson’s discussion concerns the decision that will be rendered during the oral arguments held by the U.S. Supreme Court on November 9th with respect to two cases; Sullivan vs. Florida and Graham vs. Florida. The deliberation will determine whether it’s cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a 13 year old and a 17 year old to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a crime that did not involve the taking of a life ...view middle of the document...
States further restrict young adolescents from activities that require a more mature judgment such as driving and sexual activity. To support his claim he argues from comparison referencing the Roper v. Simmons case where the Supreme Court recognized the differences between teenagers and adults by ruling that it was unconstitutional to impose the death penalty on defendants younger than 18. Simpson questions the distinction between this ruling and that of Sullivan v Florida and Graham v. Florida; whereby locking up a youth for the rest of his life, with no hope for parole is not unconstitutional for the same reasons.
Sullivan advocates that juvenile offenders be given the opportunity to have their sentences reviewed later in life. Speaking from experience, he offers the explanation that “it is cruel and unusual to pass a final judgment on a person whose character is still forming.” It is here that the author appeals to the reader’s lathos by asking them to compare the person they were at 13 or 17 to the person they are at 30, 40 or 50. He attributes a large part of kid’s behavior to ignorance, by resorting to peer pressure without giving much thought to the consequences. It is his participation in these cases that he identifies with parole authorities and their ability to determine whether adolescents have served a significant portion of their sentences, have been rehabilitated and pose no threats to others, and deserve the chance to complete their sentences in the community.
It is my understandings that even the U.S Supreme court is susceptible to mistakes, and the author suggests that a better option is to sentence serious juvenile offenders to life sentences with the possibility of parole; with the hope that this will encourage them to continue their education and take advantage of programs in prison to...