THE United States has far more juveniles serving life terms than any other country — 2387. Israel, the only other country that imprisons juveniles for life, according to a new study by the University of San Francisco's Centre for Law & Global Justice, has seven — and has not issued such a sentence since 2004.
In the US, life terms have fallen disproportionately on non-white children, who are 10 times more likely than white children to be given life without parole, the report found.
The study, titled Sentencing Children to Die in Prison, also found that in California, black juveniles are 20 times more likely to receive such sentences.
"For many children, (life without parole) is an effective death sentence," said Michelle Leighton, chief author of the study, which found 51% of such children were first-time offenders.
The US Federal Government and 44 states permit life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.
"Among those states, 13 allow sentencing a child of any age to LWOP and one sets the bar at eight years or older," according to the study.
There are 18 states that could apply the sentence to a child as young as 10, and 20 states that allow it for children 12 or older. The minimum age is 14 in 13 other states.
The report asserts that "harsh sentences dispensed in adult courts do not take into account the lessened culpability of juvenile offenders… Psychologically and neurologically, children cannot be expected to have achieved the same level of mental development as an adult, even when they become teenagers."
ETA: Meanwhile, check out the hilarity over at the Fark thread discussing this article. Talk about empty vessels making the most noise.