US Under Fire For Being The Only Nation To Incarcerate Juveniles To Life In Prison Without Parole

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The Sentencing Project conducted a survey on individuals sentenced to life in prison as children and found a number of tragic similarities between their early life circumstances.

  • 79% witnessed violence in their homes
  • 32% grew up in public housing
  • 40% had been enrolled in special education classes
  • Fewer than half were attending school at the time of their offense
  • 47% were physically abused
  • 80% of girls reported histories of physical abuse
  • 77% of girls reported histories of sexual abuse

The report mentioned that adolescence is a time of “immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences,” all factors that limit an individual’s judgement.freedom

The sentencing project has calculated that more than 2,500 individuals are serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for crimes committed as children.

Their research into adolescent brain development confirms that children are different from adults in ways that are critical to identifying age-appropriate criminal sentences.

This quote was given in after a survey following the defendant imprisoned in the case of Graham v. Florida, 2010. Life in prison without the possibility of parole gives no chance for fulfillment outside prison walls, no chance for reconciliation with society, no hope. Maturity can lead to that considered reflection which is the foundation for remorse, renewal, and rehabilitation. A young person who knows that he or she has no chance to leave prison before life’s end has little incentive to become a responsible individual.

Imprisoning Juveniles to Life without parole is considered a violation of the 8th Amendment to the US Constituition. As can be seen in the following, which is an excerpt from a dissenting opinion of Judge Chapel in the case of Cipriano, v. Oklahoma, 2001.

Moreover, his sentence in my judgment, violates the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution…He was barely 15 when he committed the crime; he is emotionally and psychologically immature; he is learning disabled and functioned for several years below his peers; he has strong family support; he had never before been in any kind of legal trouble; and the evidence in support of his motion [to be transferred to the juvenile court] was overwhelming and essentially unrebutted…Sentencing him to life without parole is quite simply hideous and a travesty of justice.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It is an atrocity that we treat children this way. I had no idea. It’s the parents of those children who need to be in prison. The children need lots of help, not prison.

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