While a number of states continue to use life without parole sentences for juveniles, new research shows that those juveniles are largely and increasingly people of color. A recent study by researchers from the Phillips Black Project found that people of color are overrepresented in the juvenile life without parole population “in ways perhaps unseen in any other aspect of our criminal justice system.”
Young black people are hit hardest by prosecutors’ punitive approach. This is unsurprising. Black children are more likely to be punished by their teachers for the same behaviors, are 2.3x more likely to be referred to law enforcement by school officials, and 3x more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.
Being sentenced to die behind bars, however, is especially egregious. The Phillips Black Project found that black youth are twice as likely to receive a juvenile life without parole sentence compared to their white peers for committing the same crime. [MORE]
From [HERE] A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri ruled Friday that recent parole hearings violated the constitutional rights of inmates who are serving life without parole for juvenile offenses (JLWOP).
The plaintiffs in this case are all people in Missouri prisons for homicide offenses committed when they were less than 18 years old. Originally, they all received sentences of life without the possibility of parole. “However, the United States Supreme Court recently held that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a person who was under the age of 18 when he committed the offense violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.” Each of the plaintiffs in this case had a parole hearing, and each of them were subsequently denied parole.
In the order, the judge gave the Missouri Parole Board 60 days to present “a plan for compliance with applicable statutory and constitutional requirements.” This plan should have revised procedures to ensure that all inmates serving JLWOP sentences “are provided a meaningful and realistic opportunity for release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.”