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Abolition of Juvenile Life Without Parole for Juveniles

WHEREAS, the United States of America shamefully leads the world in the number of children (2400) that are imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole for crimes committed as juveniles; and

WHEREAS, sentencing juveniles to life without parole (JLWOP) contravenes international law, with only the U.S. and Somalia failing to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child banning the practice; and

WHEREAS, nationwide black youth receive JLWOP sentences ten times more often that white youth, Hispanic youth receive JLWOP multiple times more often than white youth, with nearly 60 percent of those receiving JLWOP having neither adult criminal records nor juvenile adjudication, and over one-quarter of youth receiving JLWOP sentences were convicted in crimes where another participant committed the felonious assault; and

WHEREAS, as many as forty-two (42) states sentence minors to life without parole; and

WHEREAS, it is recognized that adolescent brain development is not complete for comprehensive reasoning, consequence consideration and mature impulse control; and

WHEREAS, children have an extraordinary capacity of rehabilitation; and

WHEREAS, there are more than 2.3 million people behind bars in the United States, the incarceration of juveniles for life without parole is not only immoral, it is also a poor use of limited criminal justice resources; and

WHEREAS, The American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Campaign of Youth Justice, Center for Children's Law and Policy, Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, National Juvenile Justice Network, and Human Rights Watch all call for the abolition of juvenile life without parole sentencing; and

WHEREAS, if as a society we espouse that juveniles are intrinsically different from adults – that their judgment is lacking, that they are capable of learning from past mistakes – then how can we justify locking them away forever?

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that all units and members educate themselves as to the stat's related juvenile penal code; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that these units avail themselves of opportunities to educate others about these injustices; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NAACP Units call upon their legislatures to abolish juvenile life without parole sentences for crimes.