Precedent as a Policy Map: What Miller V. Alabama Tells Us about Emerging Adults and the Direction of Contemporary Youth Services

By Peters, Clark | Missouri Law Review, Fall 2013 | Go to article overview

Precedent as a Policy Map: What Miller V. Alabama Tells Us about Emerging Adults and the Direction of Contemporary Youth Services


Peters, Clark, Missouri Law Review


I. INTRODUCTION

Important court decisions alter legal policies and reflect the political context in which those decisions were made. Legal scholarship typically focuses on the interpretation of precedent--the cases from which a new decision draws its support or departs--and how a decision might change the trajectory of developing legal doctrine. This Article takes a somewhat different approach, examining what Miller v. Alabama (1) reveals about the state of juvenile offender policy in the United States and how the decision may influence the path taken by advocates, policymakers, and practitioners. The Article also explores what Miller will mean for issues beyond the sentencing of juveniles for serious violent crimes.

To illuminate the role that Miller plays with regard to the wider realm of youth policy, I will employ the analytic approach of Professor John Kingdon, whose influential book Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies (Agendas) provides a framework for understanding how ideas move from mere proposals to effectuated policy. (2) His approach emerges from the pluralist tradition, which emphasizes government processes and the role of political influence in affecting policy choices. (3) In posing Kingdon's central question "How does an idea's time come?" (4)--to the Miller decision, this Article employs Kingdon's theoretical framework in two ways. First, Kingdon's framework is used to identify the factors, both political and scientific, that helped set the stage for the decision. Second, the Article explores how the identification and articulation of those factors will influence how we understand and deal with young offenders and disadvantaged emerging adults in the coming years.

II. KINGDON'S AGENDA-SETTING FRAMEWORK

In articulating his framework, Kingdon draws on a colorful metaphor first developed by Professors Michael Cohen, James March, and Johan Olsen in their article "A Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice." (5) Kingdon's version of the "garbage can model" identifies three related "streams" that influence the topics that gain the attention of the public and their political representatives. (6) The "problem stream" describes how problems arise and are articulated by actors who have a stake in addressing the problem. (7) The "political stream" deals with changing governmental and electoral circumstances. (8) The political environment is influenced by shifting power among parties and factions, as well as external events--such as economic conditions or particularly heinous crimes--that may make legislative bodies amenable to policies that would be otherwise disregarded. (9) Finally, the "policy stream" involves the development of policy proposals themselves, how they are developed, and by whom. (10)

Central to Kingdon's approach is the idea that these streams are distinct; they occupy space in the "garbage can" and join together to determine the agendas of formal governmental actors. (11) The nature and path of these streams are only loosely coupled with each other. (12) Consequently, policies developed to address one problem may at times be paired with a different problem. (13) Alignment of the three streams provides an opening, or a "policy window," that allows reforms to be adopted. (14) Kingdon provides an example using a case study of the rise of health maintenance organizations in the 1970s, a reform that sought to address the rising costs of medical care. (15) He details how prepaid medical care, which "had been established and well-known for years," was repackaged in order to inject market dynamics into the provision of medical care, presumably lowering costs. (16) In this case, the problem of spiraling costs joined with a novel approach that was congruent with the economic principles that held sway in the Nixon administration. (17) In Agendas, Kingdon provided two additional case studies: the failure to establish national health insurance during the Carter administration, and the successful deregulation of the aviation, trucking, and railroad industries during the 1980s. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Precedent as a Policy Map: What Miller V. Alabama Tells Us about Emerging Adults and the Direction of Contemporary Youth Services
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.