In Miller v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court held that statutes imposing mandatory sentences of life without parole on juvenile offenders violate the Eighth Amendment. In doing so, the Court applied the Eighth Amendment analysis normally reserved to review capital sentences. The extension of this analysis to a term-of-years sentence rested on the Court’s recognition of developmental differences that make juveniles categorically less culpable than adults. This Note argues that based on Miller, statutory provisions that impose lengthy sentence enhancements on juveniles who commit gang-related crimes, such as those found in California’s STEP Act, should also be struck down. Such provisions should be struck down because the gang setting magnifies many of the developmental differences highlighted in Miller, and penological justifications fail to explain the application of gang enhancements to juvenile offenders.
Law Enforcement and Corrections
- Journal title
Boston College Law Review
- Date submitted
8 September 2022