US sentences minors to life in prison

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Press TV | Saturday, December 3, 2011, 19:34 Beijing
A new report released by Amnesty International says the US is the only country sentencing minors to mandatory life imprisonment, Press TV reports.

According to Amnesty International, children in the US as young as eleven years old have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of ever being paroled.

“It certainly places a bad mark on us. We would be wise to come into compliance with the United Nation’s agreement that juvenile life without parole is cruel and unusual and should be eliminated” Ashley Nellis of the Sentencing Project told Press TV.

She added that, “We are the only country in the world that uses this practice that we are aware of.”

According to the Sentencing Project, about 75% of the adults who are in US jails for committing crimes as juveniles are African-American or Hispanic.

“People who end up with juvenile life with no parole are also disproportionately poor, come from communities of violence and did not have the protections that other youth have and we know that those sorts of things are separated by race,” Nellis noted.

She went on to say that, sentences are handed down without considering factors such as history of abuse, mental health and the special potential for rehabilitation and change.

“We have contact with them today and we see that they are different people. Moreover, the fact that as a society we are not willing to look at them and see ‘Is this really still the same person?’ is deeply troubling.” Nellis concluded.

Last year, the US Supreme Court banned life sentences without parole for minors in non-murder cases.

A decision by the Court is expected next year regarding the consideration of the issue in homicide cases as well.


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