The More Things Change…

Last Monday was a big day for criminal justice reform – the Supreme Court extended the scope of its new juvenile sentencing standard precluding automatic life sentences for young murderers, and President Obama announced several prison reforms including a ban on solitary confinement for juveniles in the federal prison system. Unfortunately, other than the optics, neither is as significant as they might seem. The Supreme Court’s decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana still leaves great discretion with state judges, parole officers, and prison wardens to keep juveniles behind bars for life, and there are very, very few juveniles in the federal prisons – states can continue to use solitary confinement for juveniles as they choose.

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