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The Champion

April 2017 , Page 38 

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When Are We Going to Launch Gault 2.0?

By Dr. Antoinette Kavanaugh


In In re Gault, the U.S Supreme Court affirmed that juveniles share many of the rights adults have in a legal proceeding. The justices relied on very little science in reaching this landmark decision. Since Gault, the Court has begun to rely more on empirical research when issuing rulings that impact juveniles. For example, in 2005 in Roper the Court cited scientific evidence in ruling that it was unconstitutional to sentence a person to death for a crime committed before the person’s 18th birthday.1 The Court articulated fundamental ways in which adolescents are different from adults.

More recently, in 2012in Miller v. Alabama,the Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to automatically sentence a youth to life without parole for a crime committed before the youth’s 18th birthday.2 Relying on science, the Court stated that “[s]uch mandatory penalties, by their nature, preclude a sentencer from taking account of an offender’s age and the wealth of characteristics and

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