Statement by Jody Kent, Director and National Coordinator
Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth 

On Sara Kruzan’s Petition for Clemency


September 28, 2010

Contact:  Allison Conyers
202-612-3214 or

“Today, a clemency petition will be filed on behalf of Sara Kruzan, who is serving a life without parole sentence for a crime she committed just two months after her sixteenth birthday. The National Center for Youth Law and Perkins Coie will be filing a clemency petition in California on her behalf asking Governor Schwarzenegger to commute her sentence to time served.  

Sara’s case is extraordinary. She received life without parole for killing a well known pimp who began sexually abusing her when she was 11 and prostituted her from the age of 13. Sara’s story has been shared in California and nationally because it shows in such a compelling way the unjustness of imposing extreme sentences on youth.

The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth unequivocally supports Sara’s petition for clemency and the commutation of her sentence, just as we support the abolition of the practice of sentencing any young person to life without parole.  We should not be in the practice of giving up on teenagers who commit serious crimes.  A review of sentences later in life will give young people an opportunity to prove whether or not they continue to pose a risk to society. 

We need age-appropriate, science-based policies in place that focus on rehabilitating young people who have made terrible mistakes.  Sara is one of more than 2500 people in the United States sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were a teenager.  No other country imprisons children or teenagers for the rest of their lives without hope for release.

Science tells us that the same immaturity and flexibility that makes teenagers susceptible to outside influences also makes them strong candidates for rehabilitation.  Therefore, it is irresponsible and immoral to sentence youth to die in prison.  For this reason we urge Governor Schwarzenegger to immediately grant clemency to Sara Kruzan, and commute her life without the possibility of parole sentence to time served.”


See Sara’s Story:   

For research and to learn more about youth sentenced to die in prison in the United States, visit our site