Task Force Recommends: Stop Sentencing Kids to Die in Prison

On March 16, the Justice Reinvestment Task Force released a set of recommendations aimed at relieving Louisiana of its title as incarceration capitol of the world.  If adopted by the legislature, the recommendations are expected to reduce the state prison population by 13% and save taxpayers $150 million over the next decade.

Included in the report is a recommendation that Louisiana stop sentencing children to die in prison. Rather than give children convicted of homicide a sentence of life without parole, the Task Force recommends a sentence a life with the opportunity for parole after a child serves 30 years in prison.

Read our statement about this plan below, and learn more about our work to end juvenile life without parole here.

In recommending that the state no longer sentence children to die in prison, the Task Force has recognized that children are uniquely capable of positive change and should have an opportunity for redemption.  We enthusiastically applaud this measure to allow parole eligibility for all children serving life sentences, which will bring Louisiana into compliance with recent Supreme Court decisions.

We do hope, however, that the legislature will allow children to make their first case before a parole board after serving 20, rather than 30, years in prison.  Those who have not been rehabilitated would continue to serve out their life sentences.  But those who the parole board deems rehabilitated would have a real chance to contribute to society, while saving the state millions of dollars in unnecessary incarceration costs.

Aaron Clark-Rizzio
Executive Director, Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights