Life Without Parole is Always the Wrong Thing, Says The Other Death Penalty Project

Jun 02, 2010, 19:42 ET from The Other Death Penalty Project

LANCASTER, Calif., June 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a decision being hailed as a great step forward for criminal justice in the United States, the Supreme Court ruled, in a 6-3 decision, that sentencing juveniles to life without the possibility of parole for a crime that doesn't involve homicide, is now unconstitutional.  

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the decision, stated that the "judgment of the world's nations" should be taken into account when judges in this country assess what is cruel and unusual punishment.  

Yes, this is a small step in the right direction, but it's also a disturbing statement of reality that most prison reform activists seem to be missing.  

Three justices of the United States Supreme Court believe that sentencing a juvenile to a long and slow death penalty is always a reasonable sentence, and one more thinks it's okay sometimes.  And the conservative, discipline and punish crowd are appalled that anyone should challenge the status quo of burying as many people as possible, for as long as possible, for as many crimes as possible.  

Here's the bottom-line about all of this unwarranted celebration.  Life without parole is a death sentence.  This country still sentences many juveniles to death by way of imprisonment, and this decision does not impact that horrifying reality.  Furthermore, contrary to Justice Kennedy's apparent desire for open-mindedness, this country pays no heed to international standards as regards to criminal justice.  If it did, there would be no death penalty, of any kind.  

Bringing change to the criminal justice system will require work, work, and more work.  It'll also require clear thinking and a realistic attitude toward what we're all up against.  More accurately, this decision is a sad testament to the bankruptcy of our justice system.  That this issue arose at all; this dynamic of juvenile crimes, not involving anyone's death, ending in a death sentence by imprisonment, requiring the intervention of the highest court in the land, is nothing short of astonishing.  This country should be ashamed.

It's past time for all death penalty abolitionists, all prison reform activists, and all free thinking people across the nation to come together and call this overblown, overgrown, and failed criminal justice system what it is – a disaster for everyone.  

All forms of the death penalty, as the vast majority of the world has already agreed, are wrong.  Life without parole is the death penalty.  Life without parole is wrong.  

CONTACT: Kenneth Hartman of The Other Death Penalty Project,


SOURCE The Other Death Penalty Project