African American children and children who’ve been abused are disproportionately handed life sentences.
The barbaric practice of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole remains one of the most radically inhumane aspects of our criminal justice system.
For those of us who work daily to abolish this practice, the good news is that there are several recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that deem this brand of sentencing unconstitutional and attempt to limit its use.
The bad news is that despite these decisions and a national trend moving away from this practice, several outlier states and counties refuse to comply with the Supreme Court’s most recent mandate, which effectively banned life without parole for all children capable of rehabilitation.
The shameful news is that the United States is the only country in the world that sentences children to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and that children of color – African American children in particular — and children who have been abused and traumatized are disproportionately handed these sentences.
Taken together, these facts lead to a simple conclusion: The time has come to put an end to life without parole sentencing for children.