Adolfo Davis is thirty-six years old and has been in prison for over twenty years. He was barely 14 years old when he was ordered to participate in what he believed at first would be a robbery. For that mistake, he has never stepped foot outside of prison since. His mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole means he never will.
Circumstances. Growing up in extreme poverty, and without adequate support from his family or the social services agencies that documented but failed to meet his desperate cries for help, Adolfo was drawn to the “false family” that gang life offered. When two older gang members instructed him to participate in a crime, he went along as was expected of junior members. The two elders opened fired in a crowded apartment, killing two people. Adolfo did not pull the trigger or kill anyone.
Youthfulness. Adolfo, as a fourteen-year-old boy, lacked the developmental maturity to understand what was asked of him and the likely consequences of his decision. Despite this, he was tried as an adult and sentenced to die in prison. This sentence, which the United States is alone in the world in imposing, ignores the reality that people do change and that children are not simply smaller versions of adults.
Rehabilitation and Responsibility. Today, Adolfo is a different person than he was at fourteen. He has come to accept responsibility and feel remorse for his actions and decisions as a child. He works, has earned his high school diploma and takes college courses. Most important to Adolfo, he mentors troubled teenagers facing circumstances like he did through the Precious Blood Ministry. Adolfo also wrote a book of poems entitled "Thoughts of a Broken Child," excerpts of which are included in various publications.
Adolfo's capacity for change has always been clear. After only two and a half years in juvenile detention. Addolfo was described as a “model” person and “one of the best students” by his teachers. His therapist in the Illinois Department of Corrections who worked with him years later as a young adult described Adolfo as remarkable for positivity and big heart.
Rarity. Adolfo is only 1 of 4 fourteen year olds to have received a sentence of life without parole in Illinois, and 1 of 77 in the country.
Adolfo deserves a second chance. His sentence is now void - in July 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life without parole sentences for youth are uncontitutional. Yet prosecutors in Illinois and other states are fighting any form for relief for Adolfo and others like him who received a mandatory life without parole sentence. Insist that the Governor grant him clemency now!
**Join me on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/adolfo.davis.9
and twitter at @FreeAdolfo