Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Young Lifers


Did you know the United States stood alone recently in a United Nations vote to abolish life in prison without parole for children and young teens? We were the only nation out of 185 to vote against the resolution.

Two of our Supreme Court Justices, John Roberts, Jr. and Samuel Alito, Jr., contend that laws in other countries should not affect our constitutional law. Yet, in 2005, we were influenced by other countries when we banned the death penalty for those under the age of 18.

The human rights organization Equal Justice Initiative, situated in Montgomery, Alabama, wants the United States to review its policy on not paroling young lifers. Yet, victims’ rights advocates argue that the offenders' crimes were so horrific that we are all at risk if they are set free.

In most cases in the US today where the young are serving life sentences the crime was murder and the offender was tried as an adult.

Do you believe life in prison without parole is justifiable for those who commit violent murders as children or young adults?

Information from this post was obtained from Adam Liptak’s column that appears in The New York Times. See the 10/16/07 edition of the paper for the story. The photo, by Richard Patterson, appeared in The New York Times October 3, 2005, and is of Rebecca Falcon, a lifer, convicted of murder, when she was 15.

8 comments:

Kathy said...

I don't think that life in prison without parole is justifiable for children and young adults. If the case is so horrific I can understand a long sentence but for someone so young, no possibility of parole sounds worse than being in prison. It's like living a useless and meaningless life. And the argument that we'd all be at risk if these young people were paroled is not a good one in my opinion. We allow some pedophiles and murderers the chance of parole yet we can't allow children who have yet to fully experience life to have that chance. I think the USA's position on allowing children and young people to serve life sentences without parole ridiculous.

Alyssa Sharkey said...

If you have done something that constitutes life in prison, it doesn't matter how old you are, that's the punishment you should get. I do however, think there should be an opportunity for children and young adults to get out on parole. They are young and there is a chance for them to learn from their mistakes and continue living their lives.

Kelly K said...

I think that no matter the age, prisoners should be treated equally for their crimes - if the 28 year old murderer is eligible for parole, then the 17 year old should be also if the crimes are similar. I think allowing prisoners who are under 18 have parole simply because they were young when they committed a crime is sending the wrong message to the youth of this country. Too many people do not take responsibility for their actions already. It's like saying to a 17 year old, "We know you didn't mean to kill that person. It's okay." What about the families of the victims? Anyone who thinks they are old enough to take a life is old enough to give theirs away.

Caitlin Brault said...

I don't think life in prison without parole is justifiable for children or young adults. It is a fact that children's brains are not fully developed, and have a different view of reality and consequences than adults with fully developed brains. Depending on how serious the crime is, I think it is fair for young children and teens to serve life. But I definitely think they should have the opportunity for parole. They should be able to get a second chance. Maybe parole is not the best thing for all children in all situations, but each child should have the chance for parole.

Sarah W said...

I think that if these children and young teens committed a crime that was sever enough to result in a life sentence, then they should have to serve it without parole. I think that reguardless of age, prisoners should have to serve the sentence given to them. And if these children grow up in a prison setting, then there is a good chance that they have not grown up around good influences and will not do well once released.

Victoria said...

If they murdered someone while they were under the age of 18 then the murderer should not be killed. As for whether or not they are paroled, I believe that should be something decided on an individual basis. I believe that if they have been rehabilitated enough, then serving a life sentence, which I believe is 25 years, should be enough time for a child to learn their lesson. Their entire time in prison appears to me to be the equivalant of an extremely long and severe time out, something that has to eventually end.

Nia said...

Many different factors play a role in this decision- every situation needs to be considered. For example, a seventeen year old is more developed than an eleven year old and should understand their consequences more. I completely agree with Caitlin when she says that childrens' brains are not as developed as adults. Every situation needs to be considered individually to make a justifiable decision.

Nia said...

Many different factors play a role in this decision- every situation needs to be considered. For example, a seventeen year old is more developed than an eleven year old and should understand their consequences more. I completely agree with Caitlin when she says that childrens' brains are not as developed as adults. Every situation needs to be considered individually to make a justifiable decision.

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