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.
|< Cheney and Obama are 8th Cousins | Va. Man Seeks Stay of Execution Set for Tonight >|