Two Notable SCOTUS Rulings

1. Federal officials can indefinitely hold inmates considered "sexually dangerous" after their prison terms are complete. This ruling applies only to federal inmates, and, like any extrajudicial detention policy, there is a huge potential for abuse.

But, unlike most other crimes, perpetrators of sexual assaults have a high recidivism rate and are more resistant to rehabilitation. Convictions for sexual assault frequently don't come with sentences that reflects that reality, with average prison terms being appallingly low. So, something's gotta give.

I'd personally prefer to see long mandatory sentences with multiple parole opportunities, with parole contingent on rigorous and comprehensive rehabilitation, some demonstrable evidence of success, and a required lifetime commitment to ongoing treatment, the failure to comply with which automatically triggers a reversal of parole.

Waiting until people re-offend is not working. For anyone.

2. Teenagers may not be locked up for life without chance of parole if they haven't killed anyone. This is good news, given that the majority of juveniles sentenced to life without parole are first-time offenders, who may never have had the opportunity to learn how to live a life without violence quite literally until they were incarcerated. (Which is only true of those fortunate enough to serve time in a relatively safe facility.)

And, naturally, juvenile offenders of color are disproportionately sentenced to life without parole, meaning this is a covert civil rights decision, too.

Jill notes, however, "I wish that the court had gone further and held that no juveniles can be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. After all, this decision doesn't apply to people like Sara Kruzan, who was put in jail at 16 for killing her abusive pimp." Indeed so.

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