Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Death in Prison Sentences for 13- and 14-Year-Olds

Dominic Culpepper has been sentenced to imprisonment until death in Florida for a crime committed at age 14. View Slideshow
In the United States, dozens of 13- and 14-year-old children have been sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole after being prosecuted as adults. While the United States Supreme Court recently declared that death by execution is unconstitutional for juveniles, young children continue to be sentenced to die in prison with very little scrutiny or review. EJI has documented 73 cases where children 14 years of age or younger have been condemned to death in prison. Almost all of these kids currently lack legal representation and in most of these cases the propriety and constitutionality of their extreme sentences has never been reviewed.
Most of the sentences imposed on these children were mandatory: the court could not give any consideration to the child’s age or life history. Some of the crimes charged against these children do not involve homicide or even injury. Many of these children were convicted for offenses where older teenagers or adults were involved and primarily responsible for the crime. Nearly two-thirds of these adolescents are children of color.
EJI has launched a litigation campaign to challenge death in prison sentences imposed on young children. We are also working to increase public awareness in order to reform policies that reflect a lack of perspective and hope for young children. 

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