the u.s. supreme court, in their 6-3 ruling on monday in the case of montgomery v. louisiana, written by justice kennedy, stated "children who commit even heinous crimes are capable of change." several thousand inmates could potentially be impacted by their decision.
the court's rulings in a series of cases over the past decade suggest children are different: making the mandatory, permanent sentence of life without parole (lwop) inappropriate. though mandatory sentencing of lwop was ruled unconstitutional in miller v. alabama, states differed widely on applying the ruling retroactively.
the united states is the only country in the world to allow such unconscionable sentences for children. in 2010, the sentencing project released findings from a nationwide survey of almost 1,600 people serving these sentences. they found many of these kids had been traumatized and victimized before they hurt others.
the sentencing project also cited extreme poverty, poor legal counsel and significant racial disparities with the imposition of life sentences for juveniles. despite many disturbing patterns, they also noticed meaningful change and reform from the inmates over the years, sometimes decades, after their incarceration.
mandatory sentences of lwop rose exponentially in the 90's during the so-called 'super-predator era,' which has now been wholly discredited as fear-based media hype and political rhetoric.
the sentencing project works for a fair and effective u.s. justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.