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JULY 21, 2011: Peg's Blogs on Hiatus...

As many friends and regular readers know, I've been dealing with a lot in my personal life, lately, while my workload has continued to grow. Rest assured that I'm in the best of company, and getting by with a little help from my friends. Still, I need to take a break and focus on centering myself. That means this site will be neglected even more than it has been.

Until I'm able to get a grip on blogging regularly and thoughtfully again here (or until someone else steps in to anchor the site), I encourage people to check out Carl Toersbijns' blog (he's a former Deputy Warden for the AZ Department of Corrections, and while not an abolitionist, he's a strong advocate for the prisoners with mental illness, and for broad-based prison reform in AZ). You may also want to drop in on Middle Ground Prison Reform's site for news.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

EJI and children: Life still = Death in prison.

A little catching up, with help from Equal Justice Initiative...


Death in prison sentences for 13 and 14-year olds.


Dominic Culpepper has been sentenced to imprisonment until death in Florida for a crime committed at age 14. 

 View Slideshow

In the United States, dozens of 13- and 14-year-old children have been sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole after being prosecuted as adults. While the United States Supreme Court recently declared that death by execution is unconstitutional for juveniles, young children continue to be sentenced to die in prison with very little scrutiny or review. EJI has documented 73 cases where children 14 years of age or younger have been condemned to death in prison. Almost all of these kids currently lack legal representation and in most of these cases the propriety and constitutionality of their extreme sentences has never been reviewed.

Most of the sentences imposed on these children were mandatory: the court could not give any consideration to the child’s age or life history. Some of the crimes charged against these children do not involve homicide or even injury. Many of these children were convicted for offenses where older teenagers or adults were involved and primarily responsible for the crime. Nearly two-thirds of these adolescents are children of color.

EJI has launched a litigation campaign to challenge death in prison sentences imposed on young children. We are also working to increase public awareness in order to reform policies that reflect a lack of perspective and hope for young children.


California Supreme Court Rules 110-years-to-life Sentence Imposed on a Juvenile Is Unconstitutional

In People v. Caballero, the California Supreme Court unanimously struck down the 110-years-to-life sentence imposed on Rodrigo Caballero for nonhomicide offenses when he was 16 years old. The court concluded that the sentence, which required Caballero to serve more than 100 years before being eligible for parole, denied him the opportunity to “demonstrate growth and maturity” to try to secure his release, in contravention of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Graham v. Florida.

Supreme Court Ruling Banning Mandatory LWOP for Juveniles Gets Nationwide Editorial Support

Editorials across the country have expressed support for last Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger convicted of homicide are unconstitutional.

U.S. Supreme Court Bans Mandatory Life-Without-Parole Sentences for Children Convicted of Homicide

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued an historic ruling in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger convicted of homicide are unconstitutional. Kuntrell Jackson and Evan Miller, sentenced to life in prison without parole at 14, are now entitled to new sentencing hearings. Today’s ruling will affect hundreds of individuals whose sentences did not take their age or other mitigating factors into account.

Child Offenders Can Recover

Caril Ann Fugate following her arrest in 1958 at age 14. Register file photo.
The Des Moines Register this week detailed the story of Caril Ann Fugate, a 14-year-old girl whose 18-year-old boyfriend involved her in a sensationalized series of crimes in Nebraska in 1958. Despite being sentenced to life in prison, Caril became a model prisoner and her sentence was commuted. She was released after serving 18 years, worked as a medical aide, has never run afoul of the law, and is now a married retiree.

EJI Seeks Relief for Disabled Pennsylvania Child Sentenced to Die in Prison

Trina Garnett

In 1977, a 14-year-old mentally disabled girl was charged with second-degree murder after setting a fire that tragically killed two people in Chester, Pennsylvania. She was tried in adult court and sentenced to die in prison. EJI is now challenging her sentence and seeking relief for Trina Garnett, whose story is profiled in this month's issue of The Nation.

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