Imagine Spending Your Whole Adult Life in Prison

Adam Liptak reminds us of an embarrassing fact:

In December, the United Nations took up a resolution calling for the abolition of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for children and young teenagers. The vote was 185 to 1, with the United States the lone dissenter.

Indeed, the United States stands alone in the world in convicting young adolescents as adults and sentencing them to live out their lives in prison. According to a new report, there are 73 Americans serving such sentences for crimes they committed at 13 or 14.

The Equal Justice Initiative advocates the restoration of parole availability for juvenile offenders who are sentenced to life. Its report is here (pdf). Liptak explains why that sensible proposal won't excite legislators:

Corrections professionals and criminologists here and abroad tend to agree that violent crime is usually a young person’s activity, suggesting that eventual parole could be considered in most cases. But the American legal system is more responsive to popular concerns about crime and attitudes about punishment, while justice systems abroad tend to be administered by career civil servants rather than elected legislators, prosecutors and judges.

Few legislators have the courage to enact sensible correctional policies for fear of being labeled "soft on crime." Voters need to tell them that we don't want kids growing up and dying behind bars.

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    And... (none / 0) (#1)
    by 1980Ford on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:05:51 AM EST
    Gov. vetoes bills on criminal procedures

    From a Times Staff Writer
    October 16, 2007

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed three proposals that would have tightened procedures governing investigation and prosecution of criminal cases.

    In his veto message, Schwarzenegger called the proposals unneeded restrictions on police.

    The governor vetoed a bill to write rules for witness identifications made through police lineups, a bill to require that police interrogations in jail be recorded and a bill mandating corroboration of court testimony by jailhouse informants.

    [So not only life, but too possibly innocent.]

    clemency (none / 0) (#2)
    by diogenes on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:41:54 PM EST
    Thirteen year olds who lead exemplery lives in prison can be granted executive clemency at 53, if governors so choose.  Maybe some of the liberal democratic governors should start doing this so we can see if these people commit additional violent crimes.  Sort of an experiment that our federal system lets the country do.

    How many people (none / 0) (#3)
    by Pancho on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:59:19 PM EST
     were murdered by these 73 poor souls?:
    According to a new report, there are 73 Americans serving such sentences for crimes they committed at 13 or 14.

    So (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jen M on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 02:24:21 PM EST
    you must support lowering the age of consent to 13.
    You must support lowering the age of military service to 13, long with the drinking age, and voting age, and age a kid can leave home and schooling and get a job.

    Actually... (none / 0) (#5)
    by desertswine on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 02:26:19 PM EST
    he is a thirteen year old!

    I'm not even saying that I am (none / 0) (#6)
    by Pancho on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 02:28:16 PM EST
    in favor of locking up 13 year olds for life, but the victims are no less dead when murdered by 13 year olds than those murdered by adults. Don't treat these little bastards as innocents.