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Life Without Parole for juveniles

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In the United States each year, children as young as 13 are sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison without any opportunity for release. Approximately 2,570 children are sentenced to life without parole in the United States. Despite a global consensus that children cannot be held to the same standards of responsibility as adults and recognition that children are entitled to special protection and treatment, the United States allows children to be treated and punished as adults. Sentencing juveniles to Life without Parole is a cruel and unusual punishment and is against our 8th Amendment. In 2005, the US Supreme Court ruled that sentencing juveniles the death penalty was cruel and unusual but they still allow juveniles to be sentenced to life without parole which is essentially “death in prison”. Juveniles are easily influenced by peers, their environment, negative influences, their living condition, and their family. They model what they see around them. If a child grows up around violence, they are likely to mimic violence. It is impossible to know when a person is a teenager who he will become in adulthood and because of that it is never appropriate to put a child in prison for the rest of their life. Currently, 12 states in the United States have prohibited life without parole for juveniles including; Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Delaware should be the 13 state to outlaw it. Juveniles that are serving life without parole sentences have had their lives defined by a serious crime committed in their youth but it is not a complete picture of who they are; and together as a whole we can fight against this inhumane punishment. Juveniles who are serving life sentences cannot speak for their selves; it is up to us, the people of Delaware, to be their voices.

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