In Michigan, there are 358 people currently serving life without parole sentences for crimes they committed before they were old enough to sit on the juries that convicted them.
The United States is the only country in the world that sentences people to life without parole (LWOP) for crimes they commit before the age of 18. The sentence is in direct conflict with international agreements on protecting the human rights of children, which explicitly forbid LWOP for persons under 18.
The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that LWOP sentences for people who are convicted of nonhomicide crimes before the age of 18 violates our Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel or unusual punishment. The Court recognized that youth are less culpable than adults because they have a “lack of maturity and underdeveloped sense of responsibility”; “are more vulnerable to negative influences and outside pressures” and “their characters are not as well formed.”
The goal of protecting our communities and ensuring fair and just punishment is not served by the abandonment of our youth to life in prison without any meaningful opportunity for release. Society bears special responsibility for all of its youth and locking adolescents in an adult prison until they die, fails to meet this responsibility and ignores the special potential of youth for rehabilitation. Learn more, GET THE FACTS!
Second Chances 4 Youth seeks an opportunity for a parole board to evaluate whether juveniles sentenced to LWOP, now grown and matured, are current threats to public safety. Providing a second chance to youth to safely rejoin society upon a clear demonstration of maturity and remorse will serve to acknowledge young people’s unique capacity for growth and rehabilitation, and restore justice to the treatment of our youth.