When Arkansas last week became the 18th state — and first in the Deep South — to ban life-without-parole sentences for children, it joined a series of traditionally red states to end the practice in recent years. One need only look at a map of the issue to see states like Utah, South Dakota, and West Virginia among those who no longer sentence children to die in prison.
CFSY Executive Director Jody Kent Lavy, along with Jessica Jackson Sloan of the DreamCorps #cut50 initiative, spoke to this trend among conservative states in an op-ed published in the U.S. News and World Report, and emphasized that the possibility second chances and redemption — ignored by extreme sentences handed down to teenagers — are fundamental ideals for all Americans, liberal and conservative:
Last week, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law SB 294, or the Fair Sentencing of Minors Act, making Arkansas the 18th state to ban life without parole sentences for children. At first glance, this move may seem uncharacteristic for a historically conservative state known for harsh sentencing policies. But a closer look reveals a commitment to the fundamental belief that giving children who have done wrong a second chance is not only a legal imperative, but a moral obligation.