More than 2,500 juveniles in the United States are serving life in prison without possibility of parole. The U.S. is the only country in the world where this sentence is handed down to minors, and a new report from The Sentencing Project confirms what prison reform activists have long argued: These individuals, who were as young as thirteen when they committed the crimes for which they are incarcerated, are likely to have lived in poverty, witnessed violence and been the victims of physical and sexual abuse as children.
The report, "The Lives of Juvenille Lifers," is derived from the first-ever national survey of juvenile inmates serving life sentences. Almost 1,600 individuals responded to questions about their circumstances prior to conviction and their experiences in prison.
Among the report's findings were that:
- One in three of the respondents were living in public housing prior to incarceration.
- 79 percent reported witnessing violence in their homes.
- Almost half (46.9 percent) of those surveyed experienced physical abuse, including almost 80 percent of girls.
- One in five reported histories of sexual abuse, and 77.3 percent of female prisoners reported abuse as girls.
Here is the link to the report: The Lives of Juvenile Lifers Tom