California: Over 300 Youth Face Life Without Parole


Legislature to Vote on Bill for Possible Review of These Sentences

  • [Clockwise from top left to right] William R. 16 in this photo and 17 at the time of his crime. Patricia L. was 15 in this photo and 16 at the time of her crime. Drachir P. was 16 in this photo and 17 at the time of his crime. Brian C. was 17 in this photo and at the time of his crime. Michael A. was 16 in this photo and 17 at the time of the crime. Saul Paul G. was 16 in this photo and at the time of his crime.
    All photos © 2008 Private

 

No one can predict who a teen will be at age 40. When California sentences a 16-year-old to die in prison, the state ignores what science, parents, and teachers have long known: young people have tremendous potential to change, grow, and mature.
Elizabeth Calvin, senior children’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch

(Sacramento) – Approximately 300 youth offenders have been sentenced to die in California’s prisons for crimes committed when they were teenagers, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The United States is the only country in the world where people who were under age 18 at the time of their crime serve sentences of life without parole. Nationally, more than 2,500 youth offenders are serving these sentences.

The 28-page report, “When I Die, They’ll Send Me Home: An Update,” draws on six years of research, interviews, and correspondence with correctional officials and youth offenders serving life without parole. Despite mounting evidence of young people’s ability to change, California persists in sentencing youth to life without parole sentences, Human Rights Watch found.

“No one can predict who a teen will be at age 40,” said Elizabeth Calvin, senior children’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “When California sentences a 16-year-old to die in prison, the state ignores what science, parents, and teachers have long known: young people have tremendous potential to change, grow, and mature.”

The state is at a critical juncture as the legislature considers a bill that would provide review and the possibility of resentencing in these cases. Senate Bill 9 passed the Senate, but failed by one vote in the Assembly in August 2011. The bill has been amended, and another vote by the Assembly is expected soon, possibly on Thursday, March 1, 2012.

Continue Reading @ HRW

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One thought on “California: Over 300 Youth Face Life Without Parole

  1. Juveniles sentenced to life without parole place a huge financial burden on the public. The human brain does not even fully develop until about age 28. To reduce the number of juveniles who receive life sentences, we need to intervene in their lives when they commit less serious offenses. Detention is generally harmful or counter-productive. I propose we use the traditional punishment of judicial corporal punishment, in public and witnessed by the sentencing judge. That’s what we did earlier in our history. It will not work on the mentally ill, but it will turn some offenders around before they lose their life to prison.

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