Demand Juvenile Justice
Children can and do commit terrible crimes. When they do, they should be held accountable, but in a manner that reflects their special capacity for rehabilitation. However, in the United States the punishment is all too often no different from that given to adults.
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. The United States is believed to stand alone in sentencing children to life without parole. Although several countries technically permit the practice, Amnesty International knows of no cases outside the US where such a sentence has been imposed in recent years.
A life without parole sentence when imposed on a defendant who was under 18 at the time of the crime violates international law and standards which are almost universally accepted around the world. These standards recognize that, however serious the crime, children, who are still developing physically, mentally and emotionally, do not have the same level of culpability as adults and require special treatment in the criminal justice system appropriate to their youth and immaturity. The primary objectives should be the child's best interests and the potential for his or her successful reintegration into society.