WASHINGTON – A key House Judiciary Subcommittee held a hearing today on a bill to help end the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This legislation, known as H.R. 2289, the Juvenile Justice Accountability and Improvement Act of 2009, would deny funding to states that refuse to offer a parole option to juvenile offenders and authorizes state grants to improve legal representation for youths charged with life sentences. The hearing was conducted by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
The following can be attributed to Jennifer Bellamy, ACLU Legislative Counsel:
“The United States is the only nation in the world that sentences children to life without the possibility of parole, denying children convicted of serious crimes a second chance and resulting in interminably long prison sentences.. This legislation restores discretion to judges, juries and parole boards, providing young people with an opportunity for rehabilitation. If passed, the law would bring the United States back in line with the rest of the world community.”
The following can be attributed to Steven Watt, staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program:
“The fact that the U.S. is the only country in the world still sentencing children to spend the rest of their lives in jail with no possibility of parole is a stain on our country’s record, as well as a violation of our international legal obligations. For the U.S. to regain its status as a leader on human rights, we must recognize what the rest of the world already knows – that children should be afforded special protection and treatment, including the opportunity for rehabilitation and a second chance.”
To visit the ACLU page on juvenile life without parole page, go to www.aclu.org/juvenilelifewithoutparole
ACLU letter to the CERD Committee is available at: /intlhumanrights/childrensrights/39787leg20090604.html
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