Monday, May 4, 2009

Court to review life sentences for young offendors

There are literally thousands of children in the US who have been sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed in their youth.

According to this story that posted recently on AOL, a 2008 report from Human Rights Watch said that there are 2,484 youth offenders serving life without parole in the United States, with Florida, California, Louisiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania having the highest number. The United States is the only country in the world that still sentences juveniles to life in prison without possibility of parole, Stevenson and other advocates said.

We all know the variables that are at play in instances where young people, mostly young men who are African American - commit heinous and even unspeakable crimes in their youths as a direct result of living in fractured homes, where often drug abuse and physical abuse are a daily part of their lives.

With the recent announcement that Justice David Souter will leave the bench at the Supreme Court, we have the opportunity to have a compassionate person hearing these cases, though the case referenced in the article will have been heard this summer and Souter will step down in the fall. I am not saying that all supreme court justices are incompassionate, rather I am saying that it is too easy to look at case law and the rule of law and forget that these are children that we in the United States of America - are sending to become hardened adults in America's prisons - as previously stated, Florida, California, Louisiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania have the highest rate of youthful offendors in prison for life sentences.

Our prison population is too high in the US - when will we listen and take note that the system is broken and needs to be fixed? President Obama is looking to address inequities in the prison system and I hope that this happens quickly.

The article can be found at:

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