Statement on Supreme Court Decision to Lift Restrictions on Sentencing Juveniles to Life Without Parole

Statement on Supreme Court Decision to Lift Restrictions on Sentencing Juveniles to Life Without Parole

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This entry has been published on April 30, 2021 and may be out of date.

A week ago, the Supreme Court ruled to lift restrictions on hard-line sentencing and mandatory minimums—making it easier for juveniles to be sentenced to life without parole. The ruling is in favor of harsh sentencing and mandatory minimums—overruling precedent to reform the U.S criminal justice system and undermining decades of reform meant to bring compassion and reason to youth sentencing. 

We’re calling on the federal government to eliminate funding for cops in schools and fully fund the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)—which is the primary source of funding for federal, state, and local reforms. Children need resources, psychologists, nurses, resources—not incarceration. We must invest in our youth and implement humane practices to treat all young people equitably with as little reliance on incarceration as possible. 

On any day, over 48,000 children are confined in juvenile facilities. Cops are more likely to be present in schools with more students of color and students who receive reduced-price lunches. 70% of children referred to law enforcement in schools are children of color. Children in school with cops or “School Resource Officers” (SRO’s) are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system. Those who become involved are less likely to receive needed support services, leaving them more likely to cycle in and out of the justice system.

If you agree our youth need support, not punishment, act now at our Action Center to support defunding police in schools and investing in proven community-based programs for juvenile justice protection and prevention. #FundTheJJDPA #DefundCOPSinSchools

If you would like to learn more about what SSDP’s federal policy priorities are concerning juvenile justice reform, check out section 2 of the 117th Congress Federal Policy Agenda. Here is a one-page Executive Summary of the Federal Policy Agenda that includes our top asks for Congress through 2022. If you would like to get more involved with our federal policy work, please email