Reform Our Youth - Stop Life Without Parole Sentences on Teens

Reform Our Youth - Stop Life Without Parole Sentences on Teens

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Kayla Ryan started this petition to Wisconsin State Senate and

The United Nations considers life without parole sentences inflicted on teenagers and young adults, ages 18-20 and younger, cruel and unusual punishment. Unfortunately in America, teenagers and young adults ranging from 18-20 years old are handed life sentences without the possibility of parole without consideration for reform despite their young age, and despite criticism from the United Nations. It is a tragedy to throw away such young lives who clearly are capable of rehabilitation, and should be allowed that chance. Many of these teenagers and young adults come from environments which would rarely afford them the academic support and opportunities necessary to succeed like kids who do come from more academically supportive and safer environments.

We forget that these teenagers have different daily struggles to get through. Many of us are not even aware of the what it is like to have to grow up and develop the survival strategies that a lot of these young men and women are forced to because of where they live. Without the necessary support, it’s near impossible for them to feel as if they can survive and advocate for their own safety and education at the same time. It is possible for these children to grow up and lead a successful life and make good choices, but they cannot do it on their own and we cannot expect them to become examples of society when they’ve had a complete lack of assistance. 

Seandell Jackson’s case is a perfect example of not only a teenager coming from an environment that lacked academic support and opportunity, but it’s also a perfect example of a young teenager being given the harshest punishment possible for a black on white crime. Would Seandell still have been given life without parole if the victim was black? Would he have been given the same sentence if he was white and his victim was black? Or would he have been charged at all in that case?

From our history of these types of cases in America, we all know the answer to these questions. We live in a society that allows a grown white man to shoot a black teen walking down the street and goes free, but if a black teen shoots a grown white man walking down the street, he has to serve a life sentence with no parole. That’s not how the justice system should work.

If you agree that America should stop locking our teenagers away for life, allow a chance at reform, and stop inflicting extreme punishments on these teenagers and young adults based on their race, please sign this petition. On behalf of Seandell Jackson and every young American who has been handed a cruel and unusual punishment, this petition is aimed to stop future injustice and to correct life sentences handed to teens.

Seandell, like all the teens and young adults sentenced too harshly, should be given an opportunity for rehabilitation. It costs our country more to keep these kids locked up than it would to rehabilitate them and incorporate them back into our society. In the state of Wisconsin, it costs anywhere from $35,000-$40,000 a year to house just one person behind bars. For every man and woman serving a life sentence in Wisconsin, the state will spend approximately $3 million or more for each individual. And what is the cost to rehabilitate people like Seandell? What is the cost to his son if he remains locked away for life? We forget that these types of decisions affect our future generation. Seandell’s son is part of that generation, what would be the impact if he grows up knowing his father was given a chance at reform and released? What’s the impact on his life if his father is never given a chance and remains in prison?

Let’s not forget that the United States has the highest incarceration rate amongst any other country on our planet. We have over 2.3 million people out of our own population locked up in state and federal prisons. Our system is not aimed at rehabilitating prisoners, it is a system designed to lock people up and use them for practically free labor, with no regard for equal justice. The goal should always be to reduce our prison population, reform our citizens and successfully incorporate them back into society. Is it more justifiable to throw away the life of an individual who committed a violent crime, or is it more justifiable to say the offender was reformed and learned from his experience, and can even provide insight to younger generations to prevent these violent crimes from happening again? A life for a life is an old way of thinking. Let’s expand our horizon and fix this problem on a larger scale. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!