The Iowa Catholic Conference supports legislation that prohibits sentencing juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole and provides for individualized determination of sentences. The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that the sentences of inmates who were convicted of committing serious crimes as juveniles must be reviewed.
The underlying principle is that minors should not be treated as if they were equal to adults in their moral and cognitive development. While we believe in responsibility, accountability and legitimate punishment, a juvenile who commits a crime may not be as fully aware of the seriousness of their actions. Therefore their culpability may be lessened.
Offenders who commit very serious crimes when they are juveniles may gain with maturity an understanding of the gravity of their crime and be able to rejoin society under some conditions. Minors would still be held properly accountable for their actions and remain in prison if necessary.
The ICC also support sentencing reform that will emphasize community-based corrections for prisoners who are not a threat to the community and give greater latitude to judges when deciding appropriate penalties.