Children in the United States may lawfully be sentenced to imprisonment for life with and without the possibility of release.
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), End Juvenile Life Without Parole
As a part of its ongoing juvenile justice project, the ACLU has heavily lobbied state and federal legislatures for sentencing reform and mounted individual challenges to juvenile life sentences without parole imposed in state courts.
Among other things, the ACLU has released a report on juveniles serving sentences of life imprisonment without parole in Michigan.
The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is working to end the practice of sentencing youth to die in prison without hope of release. The campaign aims at building a national coalition, giving advice on how to draft and push for legislation, and raising awareness across the country.
The Campaign's website contains a section for the latest news related to sentencing youth to life without parole, and also provides details on the distribution by state of 2,570 juvenile offenders serving sentences of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP).
The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), Death in Prison for 13 and 14 Year-Old Kids
The Equal Justice Initiative runs a legal advocacy campaign to challenge sentences of life imprisonment without parole imposed on young children, and is also working to build public support for legislative reform on the issue.
EJI argues that young children continue to be sentenced to die in prison with very little scrutiny or review, and has documented 73 cases where children 14 years of age or younger have been condemned to die in prison. Almost all of these children currently lack legal representation, and in most of these cases, the propriety and constitutionality of their extreme sentences has never been reviewed. Read More
Human Rights Advocates, Juvenile Life Without Possibility of Parole (JLWOP) Project
Human Rights Advocates produces in-depth studies to aid in the fight against JLWOP, and submitted an alternative report to the Human Rights Council on the subject as part of the Universal Periodic Review process.
- The Juvenile Law Center, Juvenile Life Without Parole
As part of its Juvenile Justice programme, the Juvenile Law Center advocates before courts and legislatures to end the policy and practice of sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
The Juvenile Law Center also served as lead counsel for over 65 advocacy organizations and individuals to submit a friend-of-the-court brief in Graham v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court case that abolished these sentences for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offences.
- Human Rights Watch, United States Program on Excessive Punishments and Restrictions
Human Rights Watch works to eliminate sentences of life imprisonment without parole for juvenile offenders. In 2008, Human Rights Watch reported a number of findings that illustrate the troublesome nature of the sentence and how it is applied to children.
As a part of its advocacy campaign for sentencing law and practice reform, the Sentencing Project published a report on the rising use of life sentences in the United States in general and as imposed on juveniles.
- The University of San Francisco School of Law, Project to End Juvenile Life Without Parole
The School has, among other things, published a report detailing the availability and use of juvenile life imprisonment without parole sentences around the world and in the United States.
U.S. Supreme Court Litigation
In Graham v. Florida, the Supreme Court ruled that sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole imposed on juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses are unconstitutional.
- Pending State and Federal Court Litigation
In the wake of the Graham decision, a number of legal challenges have been mounted in lower state and federal courts to declare all sentences of juvenile life imprisonment without parole to be unconstitutional, regardless of the nature of the underlying offence. See the full inhuman sentencing report for further details.
- Colorado Legislation
Colorado abolished sentences of juvenile life imprisonment without parole in 2006, although the law was not applied retroactively.
- Texas Legislation
Texas abolished sentences of juvenile life imprisonment without parole in 2009 for all offenders under age 17 at the time of the offence.
- Proposed Legislation
In recent years, legislation has been proposed to abolish juvenile life without parole sentences on the federal level and in a number of states including California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Washington. See the full inhuman sentencing report for further details.
- Human Rights Watch, Against All Odds: Harsh Conditions for Youth Offenders Serving Life without Parole Sentences in the United States
- Amnesty International, 'This is where I'm going to die': Children facing life imprisonment without possibility of release in the USA
Univeristy of San Francisco School of Law, The Center for Law and Global Justice, Sentencing our Children to Die in Prison: Global Law and Practice
- Human Rights Advocates, Issues in Juvenile Justice: Juvenile Sentencing and Detention Practices Human Rights Council 16th Session
- Equal Justice Initiative, Cruel and Unusual: Sentencing 13 and 14 year old children to Die in Prison, January 2008
- Equal Justice Initiative, Post-Release Education & Preparation (PREP) Program
- American Civil Liberties Union, Second Chances: Juveniles Serving Life Without Parole in Michigan Prisons
- Human Rights Advocates, Juvenile life without possibility of parole, the death row phenomena, corporate accountability in the context of immigrant detention, and racial inequality and affirmative action
- The Sentencing Project, No Exit: The Expanding Use of Life Sentences in America
- Marsha Levick, Criminal Law Reporter, Kids Really Are Different: Looking Beyond Graham v. Florida
- Human Rights Watch, When I Die, They'll Send Me Home: Youth Sentenced to Life without Parole in California
- Testimony of Raphael B. Johnson
Former juvenile offender testifies before Congress about rehabilitation and redemption. (Equal Justice Initiative)
- New York Times: A Shameful Record
Editorial encouraging California and other states to rethink misguided policy of locking up juveniles for life without parole.
- New York Times: Raising Children Behind Bars
Editorial urging Congress to rewrite the law to prohibit the confinement of children in adult jails.
- New York Times: Juvenile Injustice
Editorial calling for changes to stop juveniles from being automatically transferred to adult courts.
- Video: Join the movement to end life without parole sentences for youth
- Video: Sentencing Young Teens to Die in Prison
EJI film documents sentencing of young kids to life in prison without parole.
- Video: Joe Sullivan on PBS Need To Know
Featuring EJI client whose death-in-prison sentence for a crime at age 13 was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Video: Life in Prison for Teens on CNN
- Video: Bryan Stevenson on Children Sentenced to Life Without Parole
- Video: Surviving Death in Prison
EJI client Phillip Shaw talks about life after being released from prison.
- Audio: Ghetto Life 101
13- and 14-year-old boys talk about life in low-income community on Chicago's South Side in award-winning documentary.
- Audio: The Teen Brain on NPR
- American Civil Liberties Union
Address: 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004 USA
Tel: +1 (212) 549-2500
- The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Tel: +1 (202) 289-4672
- Equal Justice Initiative
Address: 122 Commerce Street
Montgomery, AL 36104 USA
Tel: +1 (334) 269-1803
- Human Rights Advocates
Address: P.O. Box 5675
Berkeley, CA 94705 USA
- Juvenile Law Center
Address: The Philadelphia Building, 4th Floor, 1315 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107 USA
Tel: +1 (215) 625-0551
- Human Rights Watch
Address: 1630 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009 USA
Tel: +1 (202) 612-4321
- The Sentencing Project
Address: 1705 DeSales Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20036 USA
Tel: +1 (202) 628-0871
- University of San Francisco School of Law
Address: 2130 Fulton Street, Zief 007A
San Francisco, CA 94117 USA
Tel: +1 (415) 422-6192
Are you working on this issue? Contact CRIN at email@example.com
Previous CRIN campaign report items
- 12/05/2011: PAKISTAN: The National Juvenile Justice Network
- 11/05/2011: PAKISTAN: Inhuman Sentencing - Introduction
- 11/05/2011: PAKISTAN: Legality of inhuman sentencing
- 11/05/2011: PAKISTAN: Inhuman sentencing in practice
- 11/05/2011: PAKISTAN: Progress towards prohibition and elimination
Organisation Contact Details:
Child Rights International Network
2 Pontypool Place
Tel: +44 (0)207 401 2257
Last updated 27/01/2012 12:00:46
AD from Michigan wrote on 13/07/2011:
I just really want others to know that not only is the victim's famliy affected, but also the family of the person who committed the crime. I would hope that others would look and the entire situation surround the crime. I have a friend serving a life sentence without parole for the death of a person who bullied him in and out of school. I really feel that all JWLOP cases should be reviewed on a case by case basis.