The season is coming when advocates and legislators will begin battling and debating about sentencing reform, retroactive sentencing changes and reducing incarceration rates in America. It is a long suffering battle. One that has HUMAN consequences. While men and woman are confined in holding pens, bound in chains, held in dark seclusion, being fed scraps that should be for dogs.....advocates and legislators debate their future. Their lives are so removed from that which they debate, they go home to families, having freedom to move about, having a hope and a plan for their future and free to embrace and challenge the world with their ambition.
Those held in prisons hold none of that hope, even when the chains are loosed, even when the prison doors are opened and they pass to the other side of the razor wire, they are still prisoners. Their past mistakes are the one chain that is never removed from their ankle, the weight they carry with them forever. We don't want them to forget, we can't let them forget that they failed once. We don't want them to forget that they wronged the world that they are trying to be a part of, leaving them forever ostracized.
Yet there is hope, one small ray at a time pushing through the cracks of cement walls. In Iowa this past week the Supreme Court of that state ruled that juvenile life without parole was unconstitutional and that the mandatory sentence of 60 years imposed on JLWOP offenders was unconstitutional as well because it was equivalent to life. When the US Supreme Court rulings came down stating that JLWOP for juvenile who HAD and HAD NOT committed murder were illegal, Iowa's governor quickly responded by passing a law converting all JLWOP sentences to mandatory sentences of 60 years. A travesty and one that has been thankfully overturned. This is a landmark decision and one that will be a standard by which other states will measure their move toward juvenile justice and sentencing reform. Desmoines Register
But it is slow, painful work. Work that seems unending yet we press on. There are many new advocacy organizations being formed and from the most unlikely places like Greece. The world is watching America and they are measuring us by the same rod that we have measured them and guess what? We aren't faring so well. We have been found merciless, draconian and vengeful. To treat children and youth the way we do shows a lack of moral character. Still the clock ticks on as we debate and the children get older and the youth age and hope fades. How long will you defend your condemning ways America and proclaim yourself morally righteous? Fight for the redemption of youth......not their condemnation.
NO MORE ADULT SENTENCES FOR YOUTH!!!!
A slide show of the last 12 years....while Jonny and I and his sister wait.....surely someday....someday they will be free.
Follow this link to Jonny's Etsy Art Shop