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.