Sentencing Children to Life in Prison

According to an article in Human Rights Watch, there are currently 227 juvenile prisoners in California sentenced to life without parole. While you may assume that these are hardened murderers or worse, that is not necessarily the case.

Forty-five percent of California youth sentenced to life without parole for involvement in a murder did not actually kill the victim. Many… acted as lookouts or were participating in another felony when the murder took place.  
Nationally, 59 percent of youth offenders serving life without parole in the United States were first-time offenders, without even a juvenile court matter on their records.

Several states have efforts underway to eliminate the sentence, including Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan and Washington.

jail.jpgInternational law prohibits the sentence for child offenders, and it is banned in nearly every other country in the world. Human Rights Watch believes only seven people outside the United States are serving life without parole for crimes committed as children.  

And guess how those life sentences divide along racial lines.

African-American youth are serving the sentence at a rate that is 18 times higher than the rate for white youth, and the rate for Hispanic youth is five times higher in California than for white youth.  

This all sounds like news you would hear from a third world country or Mississippi or Texas. But California? Here’s the whole article.

Explore posts in the same categories: America, Crime, Human rights

2 Comments on “Sentencing Children to Life in Prison”

  1. Buffalo Says:

    I would be interested in knowing the age break-down. There is a world of difference between, say, a 12 year old juvinile and a 16 or 17 year old.

    There seems to be a gulf between sentences handed out to members of different ethnic and racial groups. That said, it would also be interesting to see how many white kids received lesser sentences for the same offenses committed by Blacks and Hipanics.

    Hell, as far as that goes there is a huge gulf between the so called justice dispensed to a poor man and a rich person.

    All this is probably the real reason Justice wears a blindfold.

  2. Capt Fogg Says:

    We’ve been using the anger of the victim and the anger of society as the measure of how sever punishment should be for too long. That’s why minorities get stiffer sentences. That’s why if you steal $100, you may get a stiffer sentence than the nice white man who steals half a billion.

    Justice isn’t based on emotion and being angry doesn’t give one the right to punish accordingly.

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