There has been a spate of stories about executions and life imprisonment this week.  The DC sniper died last night at the hands of the state.  I don’t believe there is a deterrence factor in the death sentence.  The death sentence is enormously expensive.  Life imprisonment is less expensive.  I believe the government should not sentence anyone to death.  It dehumanizes everyone, particularly prosecutors, juries, judges and prison personnel.

On another front, life imprisonment for anyone under the age of 18 should not be allowed.  As we learn more about the biological processes of becoming an adult, it becomes clearer that adolescent brains simply do not process information or make judgments in ways that the so-called adult brain makes them.  Imposing adult penalties on non-adult brains is wrong.

This is not to deny that young adults understand the difference between right and wrong.  Their decision-making differs materially from the brain that is ‘mature’.  The law simply must recognize this and look to rehabilitation rather than imprisonment.

I think there is such a thing as an ‘incorrigible offender’.  We don’t know enough right now to say that an adolescent is one.

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