Reinstate Parole for Juveniles Serving Life without Parole
  • Petitioned Commonwealth of Virginia

This petition was delivered to:

Commonwealth of Virginia
Virginia Governor
President of the United States
Virginia State Senate
Virginia State House
U.S. Senate
U.S. House of Representatives

Reinstate Parole for Juveniles Serving Life without Parole

    1. Maria Dee
    2. Petition by

      Maria Dee

      Yorktown, VA

There are so many juveniles serving life sentences and they deserve a chance to show they have been rehabilitated and can make a change.  Here is a letter from one of them:

My name is David Sanchez and I am writing to bring your attention to the sentencing of juveniles to life without parole being practiced in Virginia and several other states.  I am also writing to humbly ask for your support in changing this practice.  I urge you to read the following with an open mind and heart.

This is a growing issue of national concern.  There are currently 2594 juveniles serving life without parole in the US.  There are 23 states do not allow this practice or have changed their laws.  Virginia is ranked #11 in the nation with 56 juveniles serving life without parole.  No other country in the world allows the sentencing of juveniles to life without parole.  Virginia is handing out this sentence at an alarming rate.  In doing so, it is in direct violation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), which the US signed in 1995.  Article 37(a) of the CRC clearly states the following:  “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age.”  In Roper V. Simmons the US Supreme Court decided to abolish the sentencing of juveniles to death.  Part of this decision was based on the US signing the CRC.  Also recognized were the distinct differences between youth and adults.  The age of 18 is the line society has drawn, but it has been clinically proven the brain (ESP Comprehension) is still developing until the age of 25 years.  How is it possible for one to make life changing decisions (i.e. voting, joining the military, entrance into certain establishments, bank loans, etc.) when you must be 18 years of age, yet if one makes a mistake, he is held or viewed as an adult?  Virginia Congressman, Bobby Scott asked this same question.  In May 2009, he sponsored and introduced Bill HR 2289 (co-sponsored by Representatives Conyers, Jackson-Lee, Richardson and Watt) in front of the 111th Congress.  The bill asked for the sentence of life without parole to be stopped for juveniles and allow them to be eligible for parole.

I understand this is a complex issue and many factors need to be taken into consideration.  I feel someone needs to introduce a bill for Virginia legislation.  Although juveniles sentenced to life account for a small percentage of the US prison population, who better to start reform than our youth.  According to many studies, those incarcerated before the age of 18 are the most susceptible to reform and rehabilitation.  The recidivism rate for this group is less than 1%.  Life without parole should be reserved for adults who are unredeemable; unmemorable.  Clearly children are not deserving of this punishment. 

I do not wish to imply that those crimes should go unpunished.  I accept full responsibility for my actions.  I am a person serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a crime I committed at the age of 17 here in Virginia.  I am 31 years old now and have been incarcerated for over 14 years.  For 14 years not one day has gone by without a thought of remorse and regret.  I have spent the past 14 years bettering and improving myself in all aspects of my life; for no other reason than self-want.  I was an irresponsible, immature, reckless teenager, who made a horrible mistake.  I write this letter as a man, a very humbled man through age, experience, and life in general.  My entire thought process, views on life and principles have changed.  I am no where remotely close to having the mindset of that reckless kid who made such terrible decisions.  I do not believe any adult thinks or acts the way they did as a teenager.  I understand there is still so much life has to teach me.  I only ask for the chance to show positive change can occur.  Allowing juveniles a chance at parole is not a release, it is simply giving them the chance to prove they have been reformed and can be responsible, productive members of society. 

I humbly ask you to look at Bill HR 2289 that Bobby Scott has sponsored, to look into further studies and reports on this subject, and seek to adopt it into Virginia legislation.  I know your time is very valuable and I thank you very much for any consideration you can give this matter.  God Bless.

Updated Oct. 17, 2012

In June 2012 the US Supreme Court decided that it is unconstitutional to put juveniles away for life without parole as a mandatory sentence.  The State and National laws are changing.  We would like Virginia to following states like California and North Carolina in letting these juveniles eliable for parole after serving 15-25 years.  Let them prove to the review board that they have changed.  Thank you!

To:
Commonwealth of Virginia
Virginia Governor
President of the United States
Virginia State Senate
Virginia State House
U.S. Senate
U.S. House of Representatives
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Commonwealth of Virginia.

----------------
Reinstate Parole for Juveniles Serving Life without Parole

There are so many juveniles serving life sentences and they deserve a chance to show they have been rehabilitated and can make a change.
----------------

Sincerely,

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 100 signatures
    2. Our meeting with the Congressman

      Maria Dee
      Petition Organizer

      This morning Vivian (David’s mom), Chrissy (David’s wife) and I met with VA Delegate Gordon Helsel. As his constituents we wanted to bring his attention to juveniles serving life without parole sentences in VA and the US Supreme Court Decision banning mandatory sentencing practices of JLWOP. He listened to our stories. We shared pictures and letters. We showed him articles from other conservative republican who support juvenile prison reform. We shared our petition. We all even shed a couple tears. He was so supportive. He really wants to take this on. He was going to call Senator Dave Marsden to see how he can help support his bill. He was going to call his colleagues and try to get them on board. He’s even going to take a trip up to Sussex II State to visit David. After 1 1/2 hours we he gave us all big hugs, gave us his home and cell numbers, and personal email, and told us we would be talking again. All this was accomplished by one letter! Thank you all for your support!

    3. Reached 50 signatures
    4. Updated Oct. 17, 2012

      Maria Dee
      Petition Organizer

      In June 2012 the US Supreme Court decided that it is unconstitutional to put juveniles away for life without parole as a mandatory sentence. The State and National laws are changing. We would like Virginia to following states like California and North Carolina in letting these juveniles eliable for parole after serving 15-25 years. Let them prove to the review board that they have changed. Thank you!

    5. Reached 25 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Shirley swain ARDEN, NC
      • over 1 year ago

      my son currently serving LWOP for crime committed when he was 16

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Natalija Ljubic VIENA, AUSTRIA
      • over 1 year ago

      Its just crazy to put kids in prison for life...stop that. forgive.!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • kimberly garrett VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
      • almost 2 years ago

      My brother had a mindset that he was defending his family when he took the law into his own hands...he has completely changed his life and is a different person at 31 than he was as a teen... He will have my family's support when we can get him out :)

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Desia Santos SANTA MARIA, CA
      • almost 2 years ago

      Every kid makes bad decisions the choices made in childhood shouldnt define their future or lack there of

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Ashlee Hill NEWPORT NEWS, VA
      • almost 2 years ago

      My husband has been in and out of the system since he was young. And due to the system we call legal and justice system is a JOKE. He has served his time let him change his life.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.