Cruel and Unusual: Teenage Lifers

The Equal Justice Initiative has recently released Cruel and Unusual: Sentencing 13- and 14-Year-Old Children to Die in Prison, a study documenting 73 cases where 13 and 14 year-old children in the United States have been tried as adults and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

The Equal Justice Initiative, through the study and an accompanying Fact Sheet, hope to raise public awareness of its litigation campaign to challenge “death in prison” sentences imposed on young children. See Lifers as Teenagers, Now Seeking Second Chance, By Adam Liptak, New York Times, October 17, 2007 (registration required).

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the implementation authority for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, has recently called for the abolishment of “all forms of life imprisonment for offences committed by persons under the age of 18” as being “explicitly prohibited under article 37 (a)” of the Convention. See General Comment No. 10: Children’s Rights in Juvenile Justice, ¶¶ 11 and 77, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/GC/10 (Apr. 25, 2007). See also, Amnesty Int’l & Human Rights Watch, The Rest of Their Lives: Life Without Parole for Child Offenders in the United States (2005).

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