“Target: HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
I honor Representatives Scott and Conyers for their courage in proposing HR 4300. I encourage you, Honorable Members of the Sub-Committee, to begin to do the hard work in discerning where justice truly lies concerning the youth of America. Please help HR 4300 on its way to the full House.
Sponsored by: HTTP://HR4300.COM
The U. S. disproportionately sentences child offenders to LWOP. With an estimated 2,380 child offenders serving the sentence, and 42 of the 50 states and the federal government permitting the sentence, the U.S. is home to over 99% of youth serving the sentence in the world. 10 states set no minimum age and 12 states set a minimum of 10-13 years of age and 16% who receive this sentence are indeed of this young age. Of great concern are the tremendous racial disparities among the populations receiving the sentence. Finally, it is your responsibility as our leadership to be acutely aware of the unthinkable fact that adult prisons are especially harsh on juveniles. The suicide rate for juveniles in adult facilities is 8 times that of juveniles in detention facilities.
The United States is the only nation on earth that sentences its children to life without parole (LWOP). We have more than 2300 children sentenced to die in prison, including some as young as 13. Children are NOT adults. All studies show that teens brains are not fully developed, and that they do not have the maturity to always make rational, reasoned decisions. The United States Supreme Court stated that children should not be held to the same level of culpability as adults.
HR4300 would give children sentenced to life the opportunity for parole once in 15 years.
We support HR4300.
They can, however, be sentenced to life in prison and its equivalent in years without the possibility of parole, a sentence reserved for those people in our society for whom there is considered to be no redemption. Do you agree that children are beyond redemption? Juvenile life without parole sentences ignore the very real scientific facts and social differences between children and adults, abandoning the concepts of redemption and second chances upon which this country was built. Psychoanalytical studies have shown that children lack the capacity to both understand and control their actions, which reduces culpability. The human brain does not reach its full capacity in the frontal cortex, the area of reasoning, until age 25.”
The actual bill can be read in its entirety here. The substance is as follows:
“For each fiscal year after the expiration of the period specified in subsection (d)(1), each State shall have in effect laws and policies under which each child offender who is under a life sentence receives, not less than once during the first 15 years of incarceration, and not less than once every 3 years of incarceration thereafter, a meaningful opportunity for parole. Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall issue guidelines and regulations to interpret and implement this section. This provision shall in no way be construed to limit the access of child offenders to other programs and appeals which they were rightly due prior to the passage of this Act.