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Friday, June 29, 2012

Is the majority right?

*disclaimer: this post was not written by Steven, but by those who help him with his blog.
A democratic system is based on the principle that the voice of the majority matters the most. In practice, for law makers, it usually means that if you do not follow what the majority thinks, you will lose the next elections. You might suppose that the current legal system in the US reflects the opinions of the majority. Is that really so?
To continue on the topic of JLWOP-related publications, today we would like to recommend a report by National Council on Crime and Delinquency: Attitudes of US Voters Toward Youth Crime and the Justice System.
With more than 100 years of experience, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency is the oldest non-profit social and criminal justice research organization in the US. NCCD was originally founded to address issues of juvenile probation, juvenile courts, and family courts. It focuses on promoting legal reforms that enhance fairness and equality.
On their request, a national public opinion poll was conducted in 2007 to determine what American voters think of youth crime and the justice system.
The results may surprise many of you.
  • The majority doubts that the juvenile justice system is effective.
  • The majority thinks that juveniles should not be automatically sentenced in adult courts, as is currently imposed by law for certain offences.
  • The majority does not believe that incarcerating youth in adult facilities is a deterring factor that prevents future criminal acts. The majority says that such practices increase the possibility of recidivism.
  • The majority says that rehabilitation services will reduce crime rates and save tax dollars.
  • The majority feels that the juvenile justice system is racially prejudiced.
To view the complete report, please click here:
How would you answer the questions NCCD asked in the poll?
Should “tough on crime” policy apply to all offenders, irrespective of their age?
Please feel free to comment. 


Monday, June 25, 2012

A BIG DAY for JLWOP


*disclaimer: this post was not written by Steven, but by those who help him with his blog. We thought many people may find such information useful. JLWOP is the sentence Steven received. Our aim is to make our audience aware of the situation of thousands of people who are victims of the American legal system.

We are publishing this post on a special day. A day that brings hope for people like Steven, for more than 2,000 boys and girls, men and women kept in American prisons. SCOTUS, in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Arkansas decided that JLWOP is unconstitutional, as violating the Eighth Amendment. All mandatory LWOP sentences given so far will have to be reviewed.

Juvenile Life Without Parole, often referred to as JLWOP, is a type of sentence currently present nowhere in the world but in the United States of America. In the age of striving for the freedom of the individual, for equality and for universal justice, most people show disbelief when they are told that such a practice is permitted in our times. The statistics make it even more striking- there are at least 2,500 people in the US serving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were under 18 years old. It is estimated that over 100 juveniles add to this number every year (from 2005 to 2007 courts sentenced 259 children to serve LWOP). Are American kids really so much worse than kids in other countries? Are they less able to develop, to rehabilitate, or to simply grow up than their peers from Portugal, Bolivia, Pakistan, South Korea, Ghana or New Zealand?

For anyone who is interested in the subject, we have collected reports, articles, academic papers, available on-line, which may help you understand the nature of JLWOP, why it is basically wrong and why it should be entirely abolished as soon as possible. Today SCOTUS made a huge step for America to meet legal and humanitarian standards of the contemporary societies.

First, we would like to draw your attention to a publication by Amnesty International: "This is where I’m going to be when I die”.

Amnesty International is an organization which has been fighting for human rights worldwide for more than 50 years now.  In 1977, AI received Nobel Peace Prize.

Their website has a designated section with  information on JLWOP-related issues. Please click here to browse their publications on the subject.

The Introduction of the report gives a short explanation on: “Prosecution as adults” and “Mandatory life without parole”- two mechanisms in the American law that have made JLWOP possible.

 "This is where I’m going to be when I die”, presents stories of three victims of JLWOP - Jacqueline Montanez , David Young  and Christi Cheramie.  In the introduction, the authors  point out that the US and Somalia are the only countries yet to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. They present what had been done before to minimize harsh sentencing of juveniles to LWOP- in 2005, in Roper v. Simmons,  death penalty for under-18-year-olds was abolished by the Supreme Court of The United States. In 2010, in Graham v. Florida, SCOTUS deemed LWOP for non-homicidal offences unconstitutional.

The full report can be accessed here:  

Please leave us a comment with your thoughts on JLWOP and words of encouragement for Steven, to continue his fight for freedom.

 
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Poll



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About Steven

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Steven Farris is a prisoner who has been incarcerated since a month after his 16th birthday in 1998. Currently serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole, he is seeking to educate the public about the true nature of prison and the widespread and negative effects of the prison industrial complex. Steven has worked with both the National Prison Project of the ACLU, as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in furthering this effort.

You can contact him directly at:
Steven Farris #R5580
WCCC
P.O. Box 1889
Woodville, MS 39669-1889

Check out my other blog:

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