Roger- PA Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

” I’m on the Policy Committee of the Pennsylvania Prison Society which has a subcommittee dealing with the issue of Juvenile Life Without Parole sentencing. My goal is been to involve some people in North Philly and to reach out to some faith communities. Basically reaching out to faith communities to spread awareness. But it’s a challenge. *The most popular reason that (50% of) people support the death penalty is because they said the Bible says “an eye for an eye”. It’s a challenge to communities of faith to respond to that sentiment. In a punitive sense, Pennsylvania has the worst record in the world in terms of life without parole. It’s a question in terms of how to respond to it. Juvenile Justice Week of Faith and Healing to push a broader collaboration. The more immediate push is to push legislation.

On a federal level it’s no longer mandatory to give a juvenile life sentence. Part of the language of the statewide coalition is to ELIMINATE JLWOP. The problem is coming up with a group of people who can respond to the Supreme Court stating that it is cruel and unusual punishment. Parole hearings are every 5 years. We need to be more proactive, to have something more positive we can push for and get a dialogue going. 

Every time we’ve had a chance to meet with a prison superintendent they say the best behaved inmates are juvenile lifers. Because they came in a group incident or drug or violence related incident but then they’ve grown up they’ve changed, they’ve become responsible adults. “
The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is the national campaign working to end the practice
of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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