Innocence Lost: Children facing adult consequences.
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The purpose of this petition is to address the unfair sentencing and incarceration of juvenile offenders. 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 2 almost 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 intend to rehabilitate inmates, but to just keep them there. 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 then afford the offenders the right to be released into society and show they are capable of being productive citizens. To condemn juveniles to such lengthy sentences for mistakes made as children, is unjust. This directly impacts families and therefore has negative effects on communities they interact with. To offer the release of these juveniles will restore families and bring healing to those directly affected with these lengthy sentences.It will also allow them 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 by current laws to even be released until they are old enough to recieve social security. This is unjust and we must stand up and urge our government to reconsider the laws in place. Thank you in advance for your help, your voice matters!
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