A new report from the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth has found in just five years—from 2011 to 2016—the number of states that ban death-in-prison sentences for children has more than tripled. In 2011, only five states did not permit children to be sentenced to life without parole.
Remarkably, between 2013 and 2016, three states per year have eliminated life without-parole as a sentencing option for children. Seventeen states now ban the sentence. This rapid rate of change, with twelve states prohibiting the penalty in the last four years alone, represents a dramatic policy shift, and has been propelled in part by a growing understanding of children’s unique capacity for positive change.
Several decades of scientific research into the adolescent brain and behavioral development have explained what every parent and grandparent already know—that a child’s neurological and decision-making capacity is not the same as those of an adult.
Currently, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa, Texas, West Virginia, Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, Delaware, Connecticut, and Massachusetts all ban life without parole sentences for children.
Additionally California, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia ban life without parole for children in nearly all cases.
It is also important to note that three additional states—Maine, New Mexico, and Rhode Island— have never imposed a life-without-parole sentence on a child. Several other states have not imposed the sentence on a child in the past five years, as states have moved away from this inappropriate sentence both in law and in practice.
To read the Report CLICK HERE