Don’t discard youthful offenders

WaPo Op-ed on the hideous, medieval, racist US prison system which sentences child offenders to life in prison, no parole, something virtually unheard of in any other country.

A recent report by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reveals that 2,225 child offenders in the United States been locked up for life without any possibility of parole. Fifty-nine percent of child offenders serving life without parole are in prison for their first criminal offense, and an estimated 27 percent were sentenced for felony murder — that is to say, they were involved in a crime during which a murder took place, but they did not take part in the murder itself. Sixteen percent of child offenders serving life sentences without parole were between the ages of 13 and 15 when they committed their crimes.

Also striking are the racial disparities, which we find in every area of the criminal justice system but which are perhaps even more pronounced in the sentencing of children to life without parole. Black children in the United States are 10 times more likely to receive life without parole than white children are. Sixty percent of the current population of child offenders serving life without parole is black.

Often touted as a leader in human rights, the United States lags behind the rest of the world on this important human rights issue. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch were able to identify only 12 child offenders in the entire rest of the world serving the sentence often termed "death by incarceration." That’s right — 12 in the rest of the world and 2,225 in the United States.

Talk about schizophrenic. The US lectures the rest of the planet about human rights then engages in hideous practices like these.

Ditto for the death penalty. Most countries have no death penalty, and practically no other countries execute those under 18. But the US does. 

Hey, I made dumb mistakes when I was a teenager. Maybe you did too. Had I been poor and black, I probably would have paid more severely for them too. The racism here can not be avoided. Yes, some of them probably commited nasty crimes, yet they are being punished way more harshly than adults would be, it seems to me.

A fifteen year old deserves a second chance – not insanely vindictive nastiness that lasts until they die in prison decades later.

  • Mike

    Bush executed an innocent man.
    Newspaper probe points to wrongful Texas execution
    HOUSTON (Reuters) – A Texas man executed in 1993 for a robbery-murder was probably wrongfully convicted, according to a prosecutor, the jury forewoman, an alibi witness and even a victim, the Houston Chronicle said on Tuesday.
    “Ruben Cantu had nothing to do with the murder, attempted murder and robbery of the two men … I should know,” a friend and fellow gang member, David Garza, told the newspaper.
    Cantu, only 17 when the crime took place, was convicted of murdering Pedro Gomez during a 1984 robbery largely on the testimony of a single eyewitness, Juan Moreno.

  • Audrey

    What has happened to christians. Jesus Christ said GOD loves you unconditionally..
    Jesus said he that is with out sin cast the first stone. If you hurt one of God’s
    children you have hurt me. THE HOLY BIBLE. D

  • Audrey

    What has happened to christians. Jesus Christ said GOD loves you unconditionally..
    Jesus said he that is with out sin cast the first stone. If you hurt one of God’s
    children you have hurt me. THE HOLY BIBLE. Does no one fear GOD anymore?
    How would you you sentence a child if Jesus was standing right by your side?
    Jesus see’s everything. All will be accountable. Including those who have
    perticapated in sentencing and executing children. Even those who stand by
    and do nothing to change this. People can change thier behaviors. Learning
    self control. Learning who GOD is. Learning the scriptures of the HOLY BIBLE.
    All children need our love. Jesus said to love…
    What is morally right. Just how many of you have had the need to open a certain
    book named the HOLY BIBLE? Did you ever have a guilty conscience?
    Did Jesus come in vain? He loves those whom mankind has no tolerance for.
    If you cannot forgive God will not forgive you of your sin. If you are guilty
    of one sin you are guilty of all sins. THE HOLY BIBLE. Now how many hypocrites
    are there with that statement to be true. Word by Jesus Christ. Do you want
    forgiven? My daughter was murdered. Yet I can find it in myself to forgive,
    and pray for the soul who killed my little baby girl. Without regret.
    My daughter died to GOD’S GLORY. I LOVE HER ALWAYS. The fact is every word
    that came from Jesus Christ is true. Do not tempt GOD America. Can you stand
    before GOD himself? People in powerful places… America you are going to far
    with your judgements. Do not presume to know the will of GOD!!! Love God’S
    CHILDREN. These children are not yours. They belong to GOD. Do more for them
    then locking them up and throwing away the key. Have you no heart? If i feel
    pain for these children, God’s pain is greater. Have you forgotten Jesus paid
    thier ransom with his very life. Paid in full already done paid. Go to these
    children who’s only hope left is Our LORD JESUS CHRIST. Lest you be found guilty,
    before the throne of GOD. May all the angels in heaven, be witnesses for what you
    are doing to children that do not belong to you. Do not let other men’s
    judgements keep you from entering the kingdom of heaven. Stop this now!!
    It is morally wrong. Give children a chance to rehabillitate. You claim yourself
    openly they do not have the opportunities to rehabillitate in our prison’s.
    Whose’s fault is that! Make it happen. Rehabilitate these children. Give these
    children a chance for parolle. How doomed they must feel. Have you no pity?

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