Miller’s Children is a passionate and comprehensive look at the human consequences of the US Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Miller v. Alabama, which outlaws mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile murderers. The decision to apply the law retroactively to other cases has provided hope to those convicted of murders as teenagers and had been incarcerated with the expectation that they would never leave prison until their own death as incarcerated adults.
Psychological expert witness James Garbarino shares his fieldwork in more than forty resentencing cases of juveniles affected by the Miller decision. Providing a wide-ranging review of current research on human development in adolescence and early adulthood, he shows how studies reveal the adolescent mind’s keen ability for malleability, suggesting the true potential for rehabilitation.
Garbarino focuses on how and why some convicted teenage murderers have been able to accomplish dramatic rehabilitation and transformation, emphasizing the role of education, reflection, mentoring, and spiritual development. With a deft hand, he shows us the prisoners’ world that is filled, first and foremost, with stories of hope amid despair, and moral and psychological recovery in the face of developmental insult and damage.
1 • Adolescence Squared: Why Are Kids Who Kill Different?
2 • Who Are They?
3 • The Moral Calculus: A Life for a Life?
4 • Running Away from the Monster
5 • Are There Exceptions?
6 • Translating Hope into Law and Practice
James Garbarino holds the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology and is Senior Faculty Fellow with the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago. He has served as an adviser to the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the National Institute for Mental Health, the American Medical Association, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, and the FBI. He is the author of Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned from My Twenty Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases and Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them.
“Miller's Children is a compelling read, thoroughly researched and abundantly compassionate. This riveting work doesn't just make a case—it calls us all to a larger sense of kinship and the birth of a new inclusion. This is a rare book that gives voice to those previously unheard. It challenges us to stand with the demonized so that the demonizing stops.”—Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., Founder of Homeboy Industries
“Should childhood criminals pay with their lives? James Garbarino has interviewed many of them years after their convictions, and in this apologetic, he argues passionately that they should not.”
—Thomas Grisso, Emeritus Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School
“This beautifully written book is informed by an understanding human development, it's grounded in solid research findings, and it's infused with knowledge of the law. It is a much-needed work, destined to become a classic in the field.” —Kathleen M. Heide, PhD, Professor of Criminology, University of South Florida, author of Understanding Parricide: When Sons and Daughters Kill Parents