By Sharletta Evans
Nearly 17 years ago, my three-year-old son, Casson Xavier “Biscuit” Evans, was killed in a drive-by shooting. I could not have imagined that I would someday want to see the shooter released from prison or that I would become an advocate for ending the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
It was December 21, 1995. There had been shootings by rival gangs the night before in my niece’s neighborhood in Denver and I had gone by to pick up her child. Casson was sleeping, so I left him and his 6-year-old brother, Calvin, in the car with two older cousins — one 17 and the other 22. I had been inside only briefly when I heard gunshots. Casson was shot in the crossfire. He died in my arms.
Three children were arrested and held responsible. Raymond and Paul were 14; the driver, Damien, was 15. I knew I could heal only if I forgave the boys. Yet, I felt the prosecutors’ recommendation of life sentences without the possibility of parole represented justice.