Sunday, May 10, 2015

Writing Prompt

On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles who committed
murder could not be sentenced to life in prison because it violated the Eighth
Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Elena Kagan,
writing for the majority, stated that “Mandatory life without parole for a
juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark
features—among them, immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate
risks and consequences. It prevents taking into account the family and
home environment that surrounds him—and from which he cannot usually
extricate himself—no matter how brutal or dysfunctional.”

However, four justices strongly disagreed, arguing that mandatory sentences
reflected the will of American society that heinous crimes committed by
juveniles should always be punished with a sentence to life in prison. Justice
Alito noted that otherwise, “Even a 17 ½-year-old who sets off a bomb
in a crowded mall or guns down a dozen students and teachers is a ‘child’
and must be given a chance to persuade a judge to permit his release into

Write an essay analyzing the issues raised by these arguments. Be sure to
indicate which side you most strongly agree with. Support your position,
providing reasons and examples from your own experience and observations,
discussions you have participated in, and texts you have read for this module.
Your essay should be as clearly focused, well organized, and carefully written as
you can make it.

Questions such as the ones below will help you plan what you want say before
you begin to draft your essay.
Do you agree with the majority of Supreme Court justices who argued to
abolish mandatory life in prison for juveniles who commit murder or with
the minority who argued to retain it?
• Which author or authors that we have read support your position? What
evidence do they provide?
• Which author or authors support those who disagree with you? What
evidence do they provide?
• Sketch out a plan for the arguments and evidence you will use in your essay.
• Write a working thesis. After you have finished your essay, reread your thesis
statement, and revise it if necessary.

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