In a commentary published in the June 28 edition of the Washington Post, CFSY Director Jody Kent Lavy urges the federal government to take a leadership role in ensuring fair sentencing of youth and highlights a Wisconsin program focused on rehabilitation, mental health treatment, and behavior modification. These reforms are consistent with the CFSY’s principles regarding the ways in which we should hold young people accountable when they are convicted of serious crimes. To see her full commentary click here, or read an excerpt below.

Life without parole? No child deserves that.

Jody Kent Lavy, June 28, 2013

A year ago this week, the Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that it is unconstitutional to impose on a child a mandatory sentence of life without parole. The court stopped short of striking down all life-without-parole sentences for children but required that judges consider a child’s maturity, home environment, role in the crime, potential for rehabilitation and other key factors before ordering this harsh penalty. Millerwas the third Supreme Court ruling in three years to reaffirm the notion that children who run afoul of the law cannot be treated the same way as adults without consideration of their status as children because science tells us — as all parents know — they are fundamentally different.

Still, an investigation by the Center for Law and Global Justice found that the United States remains the only nation in the world known to sentence children to life without parole — a sentence to die in prison. While young people can commit serious crimes, the children most likely to receive this sentence are among society’s most vulnerable. Nearly 80 percent of youths sentenced to life without parole reported witnessing violence in their homes, according to the Sentencing Project; more than half witnessed weekly violence in their neighborhoods. Most never received treatment for the trauma they experienced at young ages.

To view the full article, see here.