I appreciate the coverage The News has given to the issue of juveniles being sentenced to life without parole. Michigan has been the site in recent months of cases involving young people dealing with these life sentences. This is a tough issue, with tragic consequences on both sides of the equation. But it is vital that we keep in mind the research indicating, clearly, that children are not adults.
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing two cases that involve people who were sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed as children, and a decision is expected in June.
The United States is the only country in the world that sentences children to life without parole. There is only one state (Pennsylvania) ranked below Michigan in the number of children sentenced to life without parole. Right now we have 359 juvenile lifers in our state.
The Supreme Court has already ruled that life without parole sentences for people who are convicted of non-homicide crimes before the age of 18 violates our Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel or unusual punishment.
Researchers have found that juveniles are more likely to successfully rehabilitate than adults, and many do turn around their lives in prison. Individuals, who have truly changed and grown up, deserve a second chance at life. Denying them a chance is wrong.
Voice: JOELLEN CARIGON/Saranac(Articles posted in the interest of juvenile justice law reform, authors/copyrights acknowledged,
NO infringement intended)