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August 18, 2008

"Sentencing Children to Die in Prison"

The title of this post is the title of this piece authored by Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children's Defense Fund, which now appears over at The Huffington Post.  The post is mostly about the Equal Justice Initiative's report from last year titled "Cruel and Unusual: Sentencing 13- and 14-Year-Old Children to Die in Prison" (blogged here, overviewed here).  Here are snippets from Edelman's commentary:

Ian Manuel was 13-years-old when he participated in a robbery attempt in Florida, leaving the victim with a nonfatal gunshot injury.  Ian turned himself in to police, and his attorney told him he would receive a 15-year sentence if he pled guilty.  Instead, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Ian's is one of several stories told in the ... EJI study [which] found 73 cases in the United States where 13- and 14-year-olds have been sentenced to life without parole -- in other words, sentenced to die in prison....

The EJI study echoes and reinforces the findings of the Children's Defense Fund's Cradle to Prison Pipeline® report, our national call to action to prevent and divert children and youth from a trajectory that leads to marginalized lives, imprisonment and even premature death.  EJI's work to draw attention to these children and its nationwide campaign to challenge and end these harsh sentences are valuable contributions to dismantling the Pipeline to Prison.

August 18, 2008 at 03:28 PM | Permalink


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This may surprise people who read the other thread, but here goes.

I have significant problems with the U.S. practice of transferring juviniles into the adult criminal justice system. It reeks of highly selective biases where someone who is considered incompetent to enter into contracts is nevertheless held to be within the full grant of the social contract.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Aug 18, 2008 4:02:06 PM

My reaction was completely different. Given the post below about prisons releasing elderly inmates early, how much can Ms. Edelman's remarks be characterized as hyperbole designed to inflame passions unnecessarily? After all, the claim that these people will "die in prison" seems as a matter of fact to be untrue.

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 18, 2008 6:42:35 PM

Soronel, can you tell me the difference
between a juvenile delinquent and a
juvenile offender? If not, then why
should we expect our electorate to do

Posted by: Large County Prosecutor | Aug 18, 2008 7:41:57 PM


These children are sentenced to life without parole. They can't be let out, ever, absent some kind of retroactive change of law or executive clemency.

Posted by: DK | Aug 18, 2008 8:41:11 PM


The difference is simple, a juvinile offender is a juvinile delinquent that a prosecutor can get milage out of by transferring to the adult CJ system.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Aug 18, 2008 9:46:47 PM

LCP, Are you with me in thinking that the electorate is a waste of time and NEVER deserves any serious legal analysis?

Posted by: S.cute.us | Aug 19, 2008 10:39:12 AM


Do i hear you saying that a juvenile that has committed a crime and is sentenced to life should never get out of prison, but an adult that is sentenced to life should. A child can die for the country and kill in the process but he should not be given another chance in society. im truly at a loss.

Posted by: glady | Nov 18, 2008 1:03:23 PM

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