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January 14, 2008

New HRW report assailing juve LWOP in California

As detailed in this press statement, today a new report was released by Human Rights Watch calling upon the California legislature to "pass a law this month to end the sentencing of children to prison for life with no possibility of parole."  The report is entitled "When I Die, They'll Send Me Home: Youth Sentenced to Life without Parole in California," and it can be accessed in various ways from this link.  Here is the start of the report's summary:

Approximately 227 youth have been sentenced to die in California's prisons. They have not been sentenced to death: the death penalty was found unconstitutional for juveniles by the United States Supreme Court in 2005. Instead, these young people have been sentenced to prison for the rest of their lives, with no opportunity for parole and no chance for release.  Their crimes were committed when they were teenagers, yet they will die in prison. Remarkably, many of the adults who were codefendants and took part in their crimes received lower sentences and will one day be released from prison.

In the United States at least 2,380 people are serving life without parole for crimes they committed when they were under the age of 18.  In the rest of the world, just seven people are known to be serving this sentence for crimes committed when they were juveniles.  Although ten other countries have laws permitting life without parole, in practice most do not use the sentence for those under age 18. International law prohibits the use of life without parole for those who are not yet 18 years old.  The United States is in violation of those laws and out of step with the rest of the world.

Some recent related posts on juve life sentences:

January 14, 2008 at 04:50 PM | Permalink

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Comments

OK, let's suppose a 17-yr-old murders four people in four seperate offenses. Should they be let out? If they then go on to murder three more people, what would Human Rights Watch have to say about that?

Posted by: William Jockusch | Jan 15, 2008 11:05:21 AM

I somewhat question the validity of this report when it's all based on self-reporting. You're asking a felon who was convicted of a crime when he was 17 about issues regarding whether an adult co-defendant received a less harsh sentence, etc. and getting this massive number stating that "In over half of the cases in which there was an adult codefendant, the adult received a lower sentence than the juvenile." I just find that stat hard to believe -- maybe it's true, but one piece of objective data would have given this study at least some claim of validity.

Posted by: JustClerk | Jan 15, 2008 1:01:07 PM

I have a very difficult time comprehending the opposition to eliminating juvenile LWOP. Elminating a mandatory sentencing law in no way eliminates lengthy sentences or even life sentences. It merely allows for the possibility of parole. Convicting a juvenile who is too young to comprehend the severity of his or her acts, and not allowing the possibility for rehabilitation is barbaric. When I learned that our country is currently incarcerating somewhere between 2200-2500 juveniles sentenced to LWOP and the total of juveniles serving LWOP in the rest of the world is somewhere between 8 and 12, it made me feel deeply ashamed. This is not justice, doesn't protect our society and merely functions as retribution.

Posted by: Lisa Kenney | Jan 17, 2008 1:13:03 AM

The Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama released a similar report last year, focusing on juveniles/children sentenced to LWOP for crimes committed at the age of 13 or 14. See http://eji.org/eji/reports/cruelandunusual.

Posted by: Clerk | Apr 5, 2008 12:21:42 AM

The Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama released a similar report last year, focusing on juveniles/children sentenced to LWOP for crimes committed at the age of 13 or 14. See http://eji.org/eji/reports/cruelandunusual.

Posted by: Clerk | Apr 5, 2008 12:22:33 AM

Lascio un salutino. Ciao! Andrea

Posted by: Forza Juventus | Oct 28, 2008 8:04:56 AM

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