Should Young Teens Get Life Without Parole?



At least 73 U.S. inmates — most of them minorities — who were sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison for crimes committed when they were 13 or 14, the Equal Justice Initiative, a Alabama nonprofit, tells CNN. Only 19 states punish children under 14 with life sentences without parole, says the organization, which argues that because of the young age, the sentences are “cruel and unusual punishment.” (Photo by Steve Liss)

Some disagree. “There are some people who are so fundamentally dangerous that they can’t walk among us,” said Jennifer Jenkins, who co-founded the National Organization for Victims of Juvenile Lifers. The Illinois-based group has fought legislation in nine states that would remove sentences of life without parole. Jenkins has experienced the devastation of losing family members to a teen killer. In 1990, her sister and her sister’s family, who were living in a wealthy suburb in Chicago, Illinois, were murdered by a teenager. “Victims have the right not to be constantly revictimized,” she said.

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