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May 25, 2009

Religious group advocating against juve LWOP

Yesterday's Los Angeles Times had this interesting article, headlined "Interfaith group seeks second chance for youths sentenced to life: The coalition delivers a message of redemption in sermons at some 200 California churches, synagogues and mosques." Here are snippets:

The major faith traditions teach that the young are special in the eyes of the Almighty. So what does God do when one of them commits a horrible crime and is consigned to a life in prison? He cries.

That was the message delivered over Memorial Day weekend at some 200 churches, synagogues and mosques around the state by an interfaith coalition trying to change people's attitudes about long sentences for juveniles -- especially those facing life without the possibility of parole. "When children commit certain actions, we stop thinking of them as children," Javier Stauring, director of Faith Communities for Families and Children, told a group of about 90 people Sunday at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. "We start fearing them, we start demonizing them."

The Bible virtually sanctifies children. That doesn't change, Stauring suggested, when the legal system tries a young teenager as an adult. While not condoning their crimes, Stauring said a society with redemption in mind would not foreclose a second chance to someone so young. "It's a lot easier to lock up a problem and throw away the key and not have to think about it, and to think that's going to make us safer," he said. What will make society safer from young criminals, Stauring said, is going after the "layers of woundedness" that often afflict them -- wounds that may stem from violence or abuse....

Stauring's group ... is advocating for state Senate Bill 399, which would permit anyone under 18 sentenced to life without parole to ask for resentencing after serving 10 years. If the inmate met certain conditions, he or she could be eligible for a new sentence of 25 years to life.  Even that seemingly small window, Stauring said, would give hope to the still-young person.

The coalition's efforts are aligned with Human Rights Watch, an international organization that has called on Congress to end life-without-parole sentencing for young offenders. "Sentencing juveniles to die in prison is cruel, costly and unnecessary," the organization's U.S. program director said this month.  The group reported that at least 2,574 inmates in the United States were sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed before the age of 18.  California has 250 of them. The United States is the only country that imposes such harsh sentences on juveniles.

This article leads me to wonder if anyone is busy working on a religious and/or biblical amicus brief in Graham and Sullivan, the two juve LWOP cases from Florida recently taken up by the Supreme Court. 

Other recent related posts on juve LWOP and on Graham and Sullivan:

May 25, 2009 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

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Comments

What does God do when a little girl skipping rope on a side gets shot in a drive-by by well organized, lawyer protected, paramilitary, illegal alien, organized crime gang members?

I see no petitioning of God to put a limit on the sentence of eternal damnation in a fiery pit of Hell. "... it is eternal, and those damned to hell are without hope. In the New Testament, it is described as the place or state of punishment after death or last judgment for those who have rejected Jesus."

According to their teaching, you do not even have to kill a little girl skipping rope on the sidewalk.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 25, 2009 1:41:10 PM

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