Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2013


In the Supreme Court's latest Eighth Amendment decision, Miller v. Alabama, the Court held that statutes authorizing mandatory sentences of life in prison with no possibility of parole are unconstitutional as applied to offenders who were under eighteen when they committed their crimes. This short essay examines several themes presented in Miller, including the constitutional significance of youth and science, the legitimacy of mandatory life sentences and juvenile transfer statutes, and the conflict between “evolving standards of decency” and the Supreme Court’s “independent judgment.”

This essay also introduces important articles by Richard Frase, Carol Steiker and Jordan Steiker, Franklin Zimring and Stephen Rushin, Elizabeth Scott, Barry Feld, and Jeremiah Bourgeois. These articles were all contributions to the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law's symposium on Miller v. Alabama.