Jose Vasquez of Long Beach, Ca., remembers his family’s relief when the killer of his sister Tayde was given life in prison with no parole, says the Los Angeles Times. Now, after 20 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that juvenile murderers with mandatory life sentences should have a chance at parole, a decision that has led many states to debate comparable legislation. Yesterday, the California Assembly passed a measure that someday could set free youthful offenders like Elizabeth Lozano, who was 16 when 13-year-old Tayde Vasquez was shot in the head.
“It’s like it’s all coming back again,” Vasquez said. “It’s like a ghost hunting us down.” His sister Sarah Vasquez said that just the thought of Lozano enjoying family visits in prison bothered them. “If we want to visit my sister,” she said, “we have to go to a cemetery and talk to a stone.” About 2,000 U.S. inmates are serving life with no parole for juvenile murder. In California, there are 300 such offenders. To get parole under the bill, likely to pass next week in the state Senate, they would first have to serve 25 years and then convince authorities that they regretted their past actions, have stayed out of trouble in prison, and could be productive in society. That is a very high bar. Yet Lozano, now 37, has by all appearances turned her life around.