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Thursday 16th of July 2020

Press Room

Mandatory minimums harm children

Wednesday 28th of August 2019 | North America, United States
The Hill
News

Over the last three decades, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, thousands of children have been warehoused in prisons with adults. We have usually ignored the cages these children are in because they were convicted of crimes in the adult criminal justice system. But we cannot ignore the fact that regardless of what they have done, they are still our children. Congress has a chance to enact reforms that assist children prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system by passing House Resolution 1949, one of three child sentencing reform bills led by Republican Representative Bruce Westerman of Arkansas.

An estimated 76,000 children are tried as adults every year. These children end up in a system that is poorly equipped to serve them. Children are fundamentally different from adults, which is why we do not let children vote in elections, join the military, or buy cigarettes. Young people often make bad decisions without pausing to think about the consequences. But because their brains are still developing, they also have an incredible capacity for change, and who they are when they are teenagers is certainly not who they will be for the rest of their lives. This is why the Supreme Court, in a series of rulings, has struck down the use of the death penalty for those under 18 and declared life without parole an impermissible sentence for the vast majority of children.

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