States Should Abolish Juvenile Life Without Parole

States Should Abolish Juvenile Life Without Parole

The Point

Some states still allow judges to sentence children and adolescents to die in prison. Maryland just became the 25th state to abolish juvenile life-without-parole sentences—the other 25 should follow suit. 

States should ban juvenile life-without-parole sentences:

  • State lawmakers should pass legislation to prohibit any judge from sentencing children or adolescents to life without parole (LWOP). Maryland recently abolished such sentences, Ohio did so earlier this year, and Virginia banned them last year. 
  • Lawmakers should make these laws retroactive. Maryland’s Juvenile Restoration Act applies retroactively, which means that anyone who was younger than 18 years old when the crime was committed can petition the court for a sentence reduction once they have served at least 20 years. The law covers LWOP sentences, but is not limited to them.
  • Lawmakers should listen to voters. According to polling by Data for Progress and The Lab, over 66% of likely voters “agree that children who receive lengthy sentences should have their sentences reviewed by a judge or parole board after no more than 15 years, with an opportunity for release if they pose no danger to the community.” 

Life without parole is inhumane and unjust:

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