Juvie LWOP Update: Stalling in IL?

The Christian Science Monitor ran a good piece yesterday on the movement across various states to do away with life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders. Much is familiar, but important nevertheless and certainly worthy of update: primarily, legislation pending in Illinois, Michigan, Florida, Nebraska and California to allow parole hearings for this category of offenders.

One line jumped out at me as surprising and, if true, notably disappointing: “The current legislation in Illinois is unlikely to go anywhere,” reporter Amanda Paulson writes, “with its key sponsor backing away last week and saying more time is needed to dialogue with victims.” That’s the first I’d heard. I’m now on the lookout for corroboration on this troubling development. Illinois readers (that means you, Dad!), if you see any news reports on the topic, send ’em my way.

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One response to “Juvie LWOP Update: Stalling in IL?

  1. Organizations like Illinois Victims have a valid concern (and I do support elimination of JLWOP). We’re fortunate in Colorado to have an organization like Pendulum to advocate for the Juvie LWOPs, but what we don’t have is an organization like Illinois Victims that can serve as a non-DA backed voice for the victims, who can facilitate a dialogue outside hearings and legislation is something that would serve all of the individuals on both sides of this issue much better than what we have now. Even in specific cases where a juvenile convicted of felony murder and is serving LWOP and where the public believes the sentence was unjustly harsh, there is something not quite right about working toward reducing or commuting a sentence without attempting a dialogue with the victims. The offenders themselves are prohibited from contacting the victims, so those who truly want to apologize have no way to do so. In many cases, outside supporters and the media will generate public attention and support for the offender — which is a good thing. The flip side of the coin is that the victims are notified of any significant activity in the case through official channels and they then have the opportunity to object to the potential reduction, commutation or release. Many of these people have been severely traumatized, have suffered through divorces, substance abuse and mental health problems. I wish there were more independent, non-profit victims advocacy groups who are unaffiliated with the DA’s offices who could serve as a conduit between the victims and the offenders. I’m opposed to JLWOP and to incarcerating juveniles in adult prisons and I believe some of the opposition to finding real solutions to problems related to violent juvenile crime could be more effectively worked if victims were afforded more support so that they might find some peace and healing, along with the offenders.

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