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October 7, 2007

Juves serving life terms

The Monterey County Herald has this extended article about harsh sentences for juvenile offenders entitled "Sentencing children to life behind bars: A throw-away-the-key political climate means longer sentences — and fewer paroles."  Here are excerpts:

In courts around the country, life sentences are being handed down at a dramatically increasing rate, and this new crop of "lifers" is getting younger than ever.  Nearly 10,000 U.S. juveniles are serving life terms — with or without possibility of parole — said a recent New York Times survey.

Meanwhile, life sentences for all age groups have climbed across the country.  The number of Americans in prison for life has quadrupled since the mid-1980s.

Californians serving life make up about a quarter of the nation's total. One of every five inmates in the state has a life term, and their numbers are increasing rapidly. Since 2001, the population of lifers shot up 65 percent. And few of these lifers, most of whom are eligible for parole, are ever released.

With the lifetime cost of each life sentence estimated at more than $2 million, California taxpayers will spend at a minimum some $66 billion to keep the state's lifer population of 33,000 behind bars. That's not accounting for the rapidly rising cost of medical care for an aging lifer class that will grow infirm behind bars.

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October 7, 2007 at 01:19 PM | Permalink


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Your post reminded me of a former client I had not that long ago who got handed off to another lawyer.

Mom had def. at 13. He grew up without a dad as daddy was doing a federal bid. Shuffled between households and family members he never knew stability. At 14 he finally found a father-figure, the head of a local gang. Well before his 15th birthday he commits a crime that required a mandatory minimum of life without parole. DA made him a poster boy of the juvie gang crackdown. Now he's 16, in prison, for life without.

Posted by: anon | Oct 7, 2007 6:07:56 PM

Wouldn't it be easier just to put these kids (of poor families) in jail when they are born? I mean, it seems like a complete waste of money and resources to pretend to educate them when it is only a matter of time before a poor kid does something that gives the state a "good" reason to put them in jail for life?

Posted by: S.cotus | Oct 7, 2007 6:22:02 PM

One of the biggest if not the biggest reason life without parole passed in Texas in 2005 was that prosecutors wanted an option for juvie capital murderers after Roper took away the death penalty.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Oct 7, 2007 7:30:44 PM

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