I don’t have a clue as to whether sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without parole for anything short of murder constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.” I rather tend to think Justice Thomas has the better of that argument.
But I’m certain it’s almost invariably piece of stupid cruelty. Will Terrance Graham, having assisted in two robberies before his eighteenth birthday, be such a dangerous man at the age of 45 that he’s worth keeping locked up? Unless Florida judges have exceptionally accurate crystal balls, there’s no way of guessing. Statistically, Graham will be safer to have out at that age than any twenty-year-old armed robber.
Too bad we have to argue about this stuff through the fog of Constitutional counting of dancing angels instead of taking a look at the data, and then asking to what extent we think that a 45-year-old is morally the same person as the young robber who used to inhabit his body.
On the other hand, while it’s quite possible that Graydon Comstock is in fact “sexually dangerous,” but the notion of keeping someone locked up indefinitely after the completion of his sentence because of the crimes he might commit in the future makes me ill, even putting aside the question of what business the Federal government has dealing with sexual assault, other than on Federal reservations.