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KATU: New study from PSU professor finds juvenile school shooters sentenced unconstitutionally
Author: Lincoln Graves
Posted: August 7, 2019

To read the original story, visit KATU.

A Portland State University professor emerita of sociology has concluded that mentally ill juvenile school shooters have been punished unconstitutionally in the adult criminal justice system.

Kathryn Farr examined the court proceedings of 10 juvenile school shooters who showed signs of severe mental instability prior to their respective crimes. All were convicted as adults and sentenced to life in prison. Farr concluded the lifetime punishments violate the juveniles' constitutional rights.

Farr says the study, titled 'Lifetime Punishment for Mentally Ill Juvenile Rampage School Shooters: No Hope for the Future?,' confirmed that in most instances, the age and mental health status of juvenile school shooters are given little consideration as they are prosecuted in the criminal justice system as adults.

Farr concludes that constitutional rights were violated based on several recent Supreme Court rulings. She says the Supreme Court has argued that young offenders need to be processed differently because their brains are not fully developed and are more amenable to rehabilitation.

"Because of their young age, such harsh punishment violates the 8th Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment," Farr said in a PSU news article about the study. "Yet appeals challenging these sentences on constitutional grounds have routinely failed."

Farr's subjects included Kip Kinkel, who was 15 when he killed his parents and two classmates in Springfield, Oregon in 1998. He also wounded two dozen classmates.

Farr believes young mentally ill offenders would be better served by an expanded juvenile justice system as opposed to an adult system that is much more punishment-oriented.

Oregon lawmakers recently took steps to reform juvenile sentencing. Juveniles who commit Measure 11 crimes in Oregon will no longer automatically be referred to adult courts.