Directed Research Seminar: Juvenile Life Without Parole (LAW-795JP-001)
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This class focuses on the timely and critically important issue of juvenile life without parole. The approximately 2500 individuals sentenced as juveniles to life without the possibility of parole in the United States now have a chance for release in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions. Following the 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama, states and the federal government are required to consider the unique circumstances of each juvenile defendant in determining an individualized sentence. The 2016 decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana held that Miller must be applied retroactively, providing the opportunity for individuals to challenge previously imposed sentences. This class will look at the issues involved in juvenile sentencing from the standpoint of these legal issues as well as issues of racial justice. We will also examine some of the research on adolescent brain development that is critical to an understanding of the legal issues.
There is both a theoretical and a practical component to this course. We will take at least 2 field trips (to a state prison where juveniles tried as adults are held and to a sentencing hearing in a juvenile case) and also learn about the work that students in the Criminal Justice Clinic have recently undertaken in representing individuals who were tried as adults and received a de facto sentence of life without parole. A number of classes will involve students presenting their papers in order to receive feedback. This is an excellent course for students interested in criminal and juvenile justice, those interested in completing a closely supervised writing project, and those who might be interested in working on these issues in the clinic next year.
The class is graded through class participation and a final paper of at least 15 pages in length. Students have the option of writing a longer paper that satisfies the upper level writing requirement. In lieu of an academic paper, students may have the option of doing a research project on the topic for use in ongoing litigation. Students will present these papers in class, and provide substantive feedback on papers and projects written by peers. These papers and projects will be substantive, but also timely and practical contributions in an area of law that is moving at a very fast pace.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
Not available at this time.