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Ending Life Sentences for Children

WashingtonPosticonLast year the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama ruled it is unconstitutional to impose a sentence of mandatory life in prison without parole for a child, according to this Washington Post column.

Still, the court did not strike down all such sentences.

Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth director and national coordinator Jody Kent Lavy, who wrote the column, said a coalition of 65 organizations including the National Association of Social Workers and the National PTA are urging the U.S. Justice Department to comply with the tenets of the Supreme Court ruling.

The Justice Department allows children to be tried as adults in some cases, which can lead to life in prison.

Young people do commit serious crimes but Lavy wrote that the children most likely to get a life sentence are among the nation’s most vulnerable. Most also need treatment for the trauma of growing up in violent households or neighoborhoods, Lavy said.

Also, African American youth are  more likely to get life sentences than white youth even if they commit the same crime.

The National Association of Social Workers’ Legal Defense Fund wrote an amicus brief in the Miller v. Alabama. You can search for the brief on the LDF Legal Brief Bank.


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