In the words of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, children are different. The issue of how to sentence juvenile offenders has long been controversial. Although psychology acknowledges the connection between incomplete juvenile brain development and increased criminality, the justice system lags behind in how it handles juvenile offenders. A prime example is the case of Bobby Bostic, who at the age of sixteen was charged with eighteen offenses and sentenced to 241 years in prison. This sentence, known as a term-of-years or virtual life sentence, essentially guarantees that no matter what Bobby does or who he proves himself to be as an adult, he will die in prison. Since Bobby’s sentencing in 1997, the Supreme Court has held that sentencing juveniles to death violates the Eighth Amendment and has banned life without parole for juvenile offenders. Despite landmark Supreme Court decisions, a gap in the law continues to exist when it comes to juvenile non-homicide of- fenders who are certified and tried as adults. Thousands of juvenile offenders are now trapped in the legal gap that exists in the distinction, or lack thereof, between life without parole and lengthy term-of-years sentences. This Comment will explore the gap in the law, the various ways the States have chosen to handle this issue, and will propose a possible solution for Texas.
“We Can’t Just Throw Our Children Away”: A Discussion of the Term-of-Years Sentencing of Juveniles and What Can Be Done in Texas,
Tex. A&M L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.tamu.edu/lawreview/vol7/iss3/4