Conditional Pardon Petition: children facing adult consequences
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At the age of 14, Dustin was sentenced to 70 years in an adult facility for his role in a crime. At such a young age he was described as a boy who was a danger to society. Not just an immediate danger but for the rest of his life. As a mother of two 14 year old boys, I couldn't imagine looking at them and telling them they'll be a danger and essentially not worthy of another chance for the rest of their lives. Dustin has grown up in a prison, that does not provide the proper opportunities for long term offenders to be rehabilitated. The majority of those opportunities are offered to short term inmates. Yet, despite that, Dustin has taken opportunites to recieve his GED, learn trades, work, and his own initiative to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually stronger. He has taken great strides to better himself and is more than capable of being a positive and productive member of society. He takes responsibility for his crimes. Dustin has goals in life, upon his prayerful early release, to mentor children to stay far from the path he himself has been on. He and our families would be more than greatful for the opportunity to show him he deserves another chance. To sentence a juvenile to an adult facility for a lengthy stay sends a message that they are incapable of positive change. It should be the intent of prison sentences to allow for rehabilitation and allow the offenders the right to be released into society and show they are capable of being productive citizens. To condemn him to such a lengthy sentence for mistakes made a child, with [currently] no review of sentencing, and no parole in VA for crimes committed after 1995, is devastating. This directly impacts families and therefore has negative effects on communities they interact with. To grant Dustin a conditional pardon will restore our families and bring healing to those directly affected with his lengthy sentences.It will also allow him to reach children headed on a difficult road themselves, who may otherwise not have the understanding of what potential consequences they could face. According to a recent study published by the ACLU in 2016, the number of juvenile offenders within 12 U.S states serving between 40 years and life, is an astonishing 8,300. When these children are convicted, they are not old enough even enter into agreements, often not old enough to drive. They are sentenced to terms longer than the lives they have lived and aren't qualified to even be released until they are old enough to recieve social security. Prayerfully, we ask for support in this conditional pardon request to the Govenor of the state of VA. I, and we, thank you in advance for standing behind us in hopes that Dustin may be granted this request and afforded the opportunity to come home and prove on this side of the fence that he is a changed man, he is a better man, and he can be a productive member of society. Again, thank you for taking the time to read, sign, and share our petition.
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