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Amnesty International’s pleadings before the supreme court in support of Juveniles

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intro from: http://www.americanbar.org/publications/preview_home/10-9647.html
Jackson v. Hobbs
Docket No., 10-9647
Argument Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Questions Presented
Kuntrell Jackson has been sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for an offense committed when he was fourteen years old.
He is one of only 73 fourteen-year-olds serving such a sentence throughout the United States. His case presents an ideal vehicle for this Court’s consideration of the question left undecided by Graham v. and Sullivan v. – whether the Eighth Amendment forbids a life-without-parole sentence for a young juvenile convicted of a homicide offense – because, while Kuntrell’s offense did involve a homicide, he was convicted only on the theory that he was an accomplice to a robbery in which an older boy shot a shop attendant. Kuntrell himself did not commit the killing and was not shown to have had any intent or awareness that the attendant would be shot. The robbery “plan,” such as it was, was spur-of-the moment, formed just before the robbery, while Kuntrell, his cousin, and another older teen were walking together through a housing project. Because law made a life-without-parole sentence mandatory upon Kuntrell’s homicide conviction, neither his age nor any of these other mitigating circumstances could be considered by his sentencer.
Under these circumstances, the questions presented are:
1. Does imposition of a life-without-parole sentence on a fourteen-year-old child convicted of homicide violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments’ prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, when the extreme rarity of such sentences in practice reflects a national consensus regarding the reduced criminal culpability of young children?
2. Does such a sentence violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments when it is imposed upon a fourteen-year-old who did not personally kill the homicide victim, did not personally aengage in any act of physical violence toward the victim, and was not shown even to have anticipated, let alone intended, that anyone be killed?
3. Does such a sentence violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments when it is imposed upon a fourteen-year-old as a result of a mandatory sentencing scheme that categorically precludes consideration of the offender’s young age or any other mitigating circumstances?

Democracy NOW with amy goodman on the hearings

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http://www.democracynow.org/2012/6/22/torture_in_us_prisons_historic_senate

In the first-ever hearing of its kind, a Senate panel heard testimony this week on the psychological and human rights implications of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. While defenders of solitary confinement claim it is needed to control the most violent prisoners, many of the people called to testify at the hearing described how it can cause intense suffering and mental illness. We’re joined by Anthony Graves, a former Texas prisoner who was fully exonerated of a murder conviction after spending 18 years behind bars, the bulk of that time on death row and in solitary confinement, and by James Ridgeway, a veteran journalist and co-editor of Solitary Watch, a website that tracks solitary confinement and torture in American prisons. [includes rush transcript]

Filed under  Death Penalty, solitary confinement

Guests:

Anthony Graves, former Texas death row prisoner who testified Tuesday at the first-ever congressional hearing on solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. Graves was fully exonerated in 2010 after spending 18 years behind bars, the bulk of that time on death row and in solitary confinement. He is now an active member of the movement to abolish the death penalty.

James Ridgeway, veteran journalist and co-editor of Solitary Watch, a website that tracks solitary confinement and torture in American prisons. He writes regularly for Mother Jones and is a 2012 Soros Justice Fellow, along with his reporting partner, Jean Casella.

LinksSolitary Watch ;Watch full Senate hearing on solitary confinement

Editor’s Picks

Transcript

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show with a look at solitary confinement. On any given day, tens of thousands of prisoners in the United States are held in prolonged isolation for up to 23 hours a day. Many are kept in cells no larger than seven feet by 10 feet and have their only human contact when guards slide through meals in a slot in their cell door.These conditions were the subject of a historic congressional hearing Tuesday called by Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. This is how Senator Durbin began the hearing.

SEN. DICK DURBIN: The United States holds far more prisoners in segregation or solitary confinement than any other democratic nation on earth. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that, in 2005, U.S. prisons held 81,622 people in some type of restricted housing. In my home state of Illinois, 56 percent of the prison population has spent time in segregation.

If I had one request to my colleagues on this judiciary committee, it is to visit a prison. Do it frequently. See what it’s like. I’ve done it, most recently in Pekin at the federal facility. But I’ve been to Tamms, which is our maximum confinement facility in the state of Illinois. It is an eye opener to understand what it means when you start talking about the sentencing aspects of Americans’ criminal justice system.

We don’t always use solitary confinement at such a high rate, but in the 1980s, things started changing. We began creating expensive supermax prisons designed to hold people in isolation on a massive scale. These supermaxes, just like the crack cocaine sentencing laws, were part of a tough-on-crime policy that many of us thought made sense at the time. But we now know that solitary confinement isn’t just used for the worst of the worst. Instead, we’re seeing an alarming increase in isolation for those who don’t really need to be there, and for many, many vulnerable groups like immigrants, children, LGBT inmates, supposedly there for their own protection.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. While defenders of solitary confinement claim it is needed to control the most violent prisoners, many of the people called to testify at the hearing described how it can cause intense suffering and mental illness. Among those who testified was former Texas death row prisoner, Anthony Graves.

ANTHONY GRAVES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Anthony Graves, and I am death row exoneree number 138. I was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in Texas back in 1992.

Like all death row inmates, I was kept in solitary confinement, under some of the worst conditions imaginable, with the filth, the food, the total disrespect of human dignity. I lived under the rules of a system that is literally driving men out of their minds. I survived the torture. But I—but those 18 years was no way to live.

I lived in a small eight-by-12-foot cage. I had a steel bunk bed, with very thin plastic mattress and pillow that you could only trade out once a year. I have back problems as a result. I had a steel toilet and sink that were connected together, and it was positioned in the sight of male and female officers—degrading.

I had a small shelf that I was able to use as a desk to write on and eat on. There was a small—a very small window up at the top of the back wall. In order to see the sky, you would have to roll your plastic mattress up to stand on. I had concrete walls that were always peeling with old paint.

I lived behind a steel door that had two small slits in it, the space replaced with iron mesh wire, which was dirty and filthy. Those slits were cut out to communicate with the officers that were right outside your door. There was a slot that’s called a pan hole, and that’s how you would receive your food. I had to sit on my steel bunk like a trained dog while the officers would place the trays in my slot. This is no different from the way we train our pets.

The food lacks the proper nutrition, because it’s either dehydrated when served to your or perhaps you’ll find things like rat feces or a small piece of broken glass. When I was escorted to the infirmary one day, I was walking past where they fix the food, and I watched a guy fix his food and was sweating in it. That was the food they was going to bring me.

There is no real medical care. I had no television, no telephone, and most importantly, I had no physical contact with another human being for 10 of the 18 years I was incarcerated. Today I have a hard time being around a group of people for long periods of time without feeling too crowded. No one can begin to imagine the psychological effects isolation has on another human being.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s former Texas death row prisoner Anthony Graves testifying Tuesday before the first-ever Senate hearing on solitary confinement. In a moment, Anthony Graves will join us now from Houston, Texas, to talk more about his experience. He was convicted in 1994, along with a man named Robert Carter, of killing a Texas woman, her daughter and her four grandchildren. In 2010, Graves was fully exonerated after spending 18 years behind bars, the bulk of that time on death row and in solitary confinement. We’ll talk more about his case later in the broadcast.

But first, we’re joined by veteran journalist James Ridgeway, co-editor of Solitary Watch, a website that tracks solitary confinement and torture in American prisons. He writes regularly for Mother Jones magazine and is a 2012 Soros Justice Fellow, along with his reporting partner, Jean Casella.

We welcome you, Jim, to Democracy Now! Start off by talking about the significance of this hearing.

JAMES RIDGEWAY: Well, I don’t think anybody ever thought that Senator Durbin and the other members of that committee would actually get into this subject in such a forceful and direct manner. I mean, Senator Durbin’s statement alone is highly unusual and, for the Senate or for the whole Congress, you know, brave. I mean, American politicians don’t like criminals, and there are a lot of people in solitary confinement who are quite obviously criminals. So, to bring this up in an election year, I think, is really quite extraordinary.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Jim Ridgeway, in terms of the response of the federal prison officials who testified, as well, your assessment of how they dealt with the questioning?

JAMES RIDGEWAY: Oh, it was absolutely terrible. I mean, Commissioner Samuels was unable to say how many mentally ill prisoners there are in the federal prison system. Now, he’s a career corrections officer, and almost everybody who deals with this subject will say that perhaps 30 percent of the prisoners are mentally ill. And the idea that he doesn’t know and—but he went further. He told Durbin that he had not made any studies. So, I mean, people want to know, I think, what goes on at the Bureau of Prisons.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I want to play a clip from Tuesday’s hearing, when Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota asked Charles Samuels about the long-term effects of solitary confinement.

SEN. AL FRANKEN: You know, what effect does this have on the mental health of people who are placed in solitary? And if they are released, do they present more of a danger to society for having been in solitary? But I don’t think I’ll get a good—I mean, you know, a definitive answer for that.

CHARLES SAMUELS: If I may, I will respond that it was brought, you know, to my attention that the most recent and most rigorous, I mean, study that has been done was completed by the Colorado Department of Corrections as recent as 2009. And with their study, they identified that no negative effect on individuals in restricted housing has occurred.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And now this is a clip of Senator Dick Durbin questioning the Federal Bureau of Prisons director, Charles Samuels, about the number of mental healthcare providers at the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, where there are about 490 prisoners.

SEN. DICK DURBIN: I’m going to zero right in to supermax here and ask you to separate those who would handle routine physical issues and those who are charged with dealing with the psychological, mental health state of the prisoners, the 490. How many at Florence?

CHARLES SAMUELS: I have to submit that for the record, sir.

SEN. DICK DURBIN: I understand there are two. Do you know? That’s OK. I’m not going to put you on the spot. Get back—

CHARLES SAMUELS: The numbers that you provided me for the staff that are there, and what I wanted to articulate is that, bureau-wide, we utilize the resources for the staff who are spread out, and that was one of the references I made with telepsychiatry. But the on-site staff would fall within the number that you referenced.

SEN. DICK DURBIN: Two.

CHARLES SAMUELS: Yes, sir.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Charles Samuels again, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He later suggested there may be nine psychologists in total at the complex. Jim Ridgeway, your response, again, to his answers?

JAMES RIDGEWAY: Well, the fact that he doesn’t know—I mean, he’s been a career corrections officer for his working life, and he’s now head of the Bureau of Prisons, which is part of the Justice Department. And this is a topic that, you know, is widely discussed amongst lawyers, judges, everybody in the criminal justice system. And here we have the head of the Bureau of Prisons, and he doesn’t know. And as a matter of fact, the two people he’s talking about, as I recall, are not, you know, shrinks. They are—I think he referred to them as mental health professionals, which oftentimes are just staff members who have had routine training and who stand outside the cell and yell at the prisoner, you know, “How are you doing?” So, I just think it’s appalling.

 

no more mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders -two articles

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TWO News articles announcing GOOD NEWS

Washington Post

Supreme Court says states may not impose mandatory life sentences on juvenile murderers

Supreme court rules no mandatory life for JUV offenders

By Robert Barnes, Published: June 25 The Washington Post

A divided Supreme Court on Monday said states may not impose on juvenile murderers mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole.

The 5 to 4 ruling said such mandatory sentences offend the constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and follow a trend at the court of treating even the worst juvenile offenders differently from adults.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority, said the decision was consistent with the court’s past findings that children lack maturity and have an underdeveloped sense of responsibility; that they are more vulnerable to outside pressure and that their character is less formed and more open to rehabilitation.

“Our decisions rested not only on common sense — on what ‘any parent knows’ — but on science and social science as well,” Kagan wrote, adding “the mandatory penalty schemes at issue here prevent the sentencer from taking account of these central considerations.”

The decision said judges may still sentence juveniles convicted of murder to a life sentence without possibility of parole, but must take into consideration mitigating circumstances.

The opinion was joined by Kagan’s fellow liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, as well as by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who most often sides with conservatives but has authored the court’s previous opinions about juvenile offenders.

It drew sharp rebukes from the court’s conservatives, including Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who said from the bench that the ruling represented an “elite vision” from the court that it knows better than the states, 29 of whom authorize mandatory sentences for juvenile murders.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in a dissent joined by Alito and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, elaborated.

“Determining the appropriate sentence for a teenager convicted of murder presents grave and challenging questions of morality and social policy,” Roberts wrote. “Our role, however, is to apply the law, not to answer such questions.”

He said mandatory life sentences “could not plausibly be described” as unusual when a majority of states endorse them.

In 2005, the court banned the death penalty for juveniles who kill, saying “the punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is itself a severe sanction, in particular for a young person.”

In 2010, the court continued the trend by saying juveniles whose crimes did not include murder could not be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at some point.

Kennedy wrote both opinions for the divided court.

The cases at the court were brought by lawyers for the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., which had asked the court to ban life sentences for juveniles 15 and younger when they committed their crimes.

Kagan said the ruling does not address that issue; she expected such cases would be rare when judges were free to take a juvenile’s age into account at sentencing.

“The court took a significant step forward by recognizing the fundamental unfairness of mandatory death-in-prison sentences that don’t allow sentencers to consider the unique status of children and their potential for change,” said EJI’s Bryan Stevenson. “The court has recognized that children need additional attention and protection in the criminal justice system.”

There are 2,300 inmates serving life-without-parole sentences for murders committed before they were 18. But only 79 nationwide were 14 or younger at the time of their crimes, and about 90 percent of those are serving mandatory sentences.

The cases before the justices came from two 14-year-olds who were sentenced to life without parole for their roles in separate killings.

Evan Miller, a victim of abuse so severe that, his lawyer said, he had tried to kill himself five times, was convicted along with another juvenile of killing a neighbor, 52-year-old Cole Cannon, and setting afire Cannon’s trailer in Lawrence County, Ala.

Kuntrell Jackson of Blytheville, Ark., was with two other youths who attempted to rob a video store. One of the others used a sawed-off shotgun to kill 28-year-old clerk Laurie Troup.

The two cases are Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/supreme-court-says-states-may-not-impose-mandatory-life-sentences-on-juvenile-murderers/2012/06/25/gJQAv1H21V_story.html

LA TIMES 6 25 12

NO MORE Mandatory Life Without Parole for Juvenile Offenders

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that it is unconstitutional for states to require juveniles convicted of murder to be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

The 5-4 decision is in line with others the court has made, including ruling out the death penalty for juveniles and life without parole for young people whose crimes did not involve killing. Monday’s decision left open the possibility that judges could sentence juveniles to life without parole in individual cases of murder, but said state laws cannot automatically impose such a sentence.

We “hold that mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on ‘cruel and unusual punishment,”‘ said Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote the opinion for the majority., referring to the U.S. Constitution.

She was joined in that opinion by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

“Neither the text of the Constitution or our precedent prohibits legislatures from requiring that juvenile murderers be sentenced to life without parole,” Roberts said…

www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-naw-juvenile-parole-062512,0,1251174.story

PLN 6 25 12

LA TIMES 6 25 12

NO MORE Mandatory Life Without Parole for Juvenile Offenders

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that it is unconstitutional for states to require juveniles convicted of murder to be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

The 5-4 decision is in line with others the court has made, including ruling out the death penalty for juveniles and life without parole for young people whose crimes did not involve killing. Monday’s decision left open the possibility that judges could sentence juveniles to life without parole in individual cases of murder, but said state laws cannot automatically impose such a sentence.

We “hold that mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on ‘cruel and unusual punishment,”‘ said Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote the opinion for the majority., referring to the U.S. Constitution.

She was joined in that opinion by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

“Neither the text of the Constitution or our precedent prohibits legislatures from requiring that juvenile murderers be sentenced to life without parole,” Roberts said…

www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-naw-juvenile-parole-062512,0,1251174.story

PLN 6 25 12

Pathway to Freedom by DarRen Morris

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SECOND REDEMPTIVE REDEMPTION PROPOSAL

Juvenile Redemption Bill

DarRen Morris

 

In the past 10 years the US Supreme Court has made two rulings that the state of Wisconsin should take notice of and use as guiding lights to reform/transform the laws and application of laws in this state.

The US Supreme  Court  has  stated it is unconstitutional to allow the state to execute adults who may have committed the crimes they were convicted of while they were persons under the age of 18. In a recent ruling our nations’ high court has stated that giving juvenile offenders life sentences is  also unconstitutional.

In the late 80’s up through l990 the state of Wisconsin along with several other states took notice of the rise of reported cases by juvenile offenders as a result of a get tough  on ‘kiddie criminals’ campaign was launched. Now our state correctional system is full of men who committed crimes before they became adults. Many of which have been sentenced to die within the correctional system. A loop hole in the death penalty – instead of placing a needle in the veins of our kids and executing them with a combinations of chemicals that will end their suffering in a matter of minutes, we opt of a less humane way to kill them. We place them in cells, with the knowledge that at the age of l6 or l7 they will sit there until they someday die in that cell. Given the life expectancy this means for most at least 60 years of mental and emotional torture no matter what they do, they will die in our correctional system. There are others whose fate is not so grim. They will serve enough time to where upon release, the first time outside the correctional wall since being a teenager they will range in age from 60 to 90 years old. At this age they’ll be expected to adapt to the use of modern technology and culture and somehow find a meaningful employment, and establish a stable home.

The judges in our state have gotten the hint that it’s okay to sentence juvenile offenders to the Wiscosnsin version of the death penalty.

In l994 Darren Morris, a hearing impaired juvenile with diagnosed major mental and emotional health issues was convicted for his role in the stabbing death of innocent victim Johnny Fish. Darren from day one never denied his involvement, only denied that he did kill the victim and that witnesses under the threat of gang members pointed the finger at Darren, thus allowing the gang member who was a party to a crimes to get off with a lighter sentence. Darren was waived into adult court, convicted of party to a crime of 1st intentional homicide. During his sentencing Judge William Atkinson sentenced Darren to the Wisconsin version of the death penalty. He told Darren “someday you will die in a cold dark prison cell with no family or friends around.” Darren had been given  life and parole eligibility date was set for 2095, 100 years from sentencing. This was the first time in Brown County when a judge had given anyone that harsh of a sentence to anyone let alone a juvenile offender.

Again keeping in mind the Supreme Courts’ ruling this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Research demonstates that some juveniles ,even those who commit serious offenses can grow up to be well adjusted adults. In a paper published by the psychology department of Utah University on the issues on human development-‘Developing Moral Agency Through Narrative” is quoted as follows: “There is no question that teenagers who commit Serious crimes should be held accountable and punished, and that society must be protected from young people who are violent and dangerous. But Studies show that the vast majority of juveniles who commit crimes –even very serious crimes-grow up to be law abiding adults, and that it is impossible to reliably predict which juvenile offenders will become career criminals. Absent our ability to do this and in light of what developmental science tells us about the capacity for adolescents to change, it makes no sense to lock up any young offender and throw away the key.”

Those are not the words of a transformed juvenile, or some compassionate sympathizer. This is information compiled by uninterested persons, who speak based on “science.”

But morality and conscience should be held at a higher standard  than “science.” In the interest of morality and clean consciousness,we , the concerned American citizen of Wisconsin, propose the following Juvenile Redemption Bill, in the interest of what is fair and just:

 

 

(Premise of Juvenile Redemption Bill and who it will apply to)

It will be a retroactive bill applying to individuals who by law were defined as children during the alleged commission of their charged offenses, and were waived into adult court, convicted and now seving time in the adult correctional system. The bill will help relieve pressure on the over crowded correctional system .  It will serve as an incentive for individuals who had little or no hope of ever getting released from prison, to participate in social and moral rehabilitation.

 

Once released these individuals would serve as community leaders helping to address the needs of the youths of urban areas, helping decrease juvenile crimes, and , if the prisoner is male, promoting a healthier image of a male, and his role in family settings.

 

Public interest is one of the factors relied on when a decision to release or to retain in custody is made. Often it is very contraversial to release sonmeone convicted of murder , and can hurt or end political aspirations or careers. To combine all interests, there should be a pool of volunteers from the public , where 12 people are gathered for a hearing allowing the inmate to present evidence and be given a fair opportunity to be heard and considered for release. The panel would be allowed to question and engage the person seeking redemption. One of the goals behind this is that not all growth can be measured by the amount of or the type of certificates a person has. It also gives the panel a chance to really make an informed and unbiased decision. The prisoner will be able to present testimony by family , friends, other prisoner, DOC staff and others to show his/her rehabilitation and presentations of writings and other sources for information will be allowed as well as certificates showing participation in programs. The victim and victim’s family , will also be allowed to testify or write in.

 

(Legal authority) the bill would seek to reform or expand the language of S.302.11(1) Wis.  Stats and S. 304.06 (1) Wis statute to be applied to all person who were children during the alleged commission of their charged offenses, as defined in chapter 48 for the time period applicable and chapter 938 (both secitons of Wisconsin statutes) for the time period applicable.  Reforming  or expanding the language in S. 320.11(1) and 304.06(1)Wis Statute for Juvenile Redemption, would allow those elligible for Juvenile Redemption to petition for the hearing and  at the conclusion of the hearing, if release is denied, the panel will set the time when the person may repetition for Redemption.

Pathway to Freedom Proposal by Ivy Carter

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The Redemptive Plan
(Revised: 06-04-10)
Note: This plan is not final and is subject to revision to meet the interest of all parties that would be affected.
Introduction–
One of the “dead zones” contributing to the high cost of incarceration is the “over incarceration” of a select group of offenders who no longer pose a threat to the community. This select group of offenders are first time offenders who were sentenced to life in prison at a young age. In the sentencing judges effort to balance the need for incarceration with the hope for rehabilitation, in essence “predict the future,” the offender’s parole/extended supervision eligibility was set to a predetermined date in the future. That date usually ranged anywhere from 30 to 60 years. Such a date left little to no room for rehabilitation because they would be a “senior citizen” before they even got the chance to redeem their criminal actions.
Young adult offenders, who are still impressionable because of their undeveloped brain, are more receptive to rehabilitation than the average “career criminal.” Therefore a first time young adult offender–who has been incarcerated over 20 years–has more of a chance to succeed upon release than those with prior convictions. So what happens to the young adult offenders who have completed all their program needs, has adequate to good institution behavior, and still have many, many years to serve before being eligible for release? They fall into the “dead zone” and can be considered “over incarcerated.”
The “dead zone” is the area between the judicial and executive branches of government where young, first time, adult offenders who are ready to be productive citizens of their community sit and wait for decades to be released. Due to the fact that the judge (judicial branch) extended the offender’s eligibility for release to a predetermined date far in the future, the WDOC (executive branch) has no choice but to “over incarcerate” the offender by law. This amounts to unnecessary cost for incarceration.
Purpose–
The purpose of this Redemptive Plan is to create harmony between the legislative and executive branches of government and the needs of the young adult offender. Our goal is to show that it is possible to protect the public while at the same time provide the opportunity for rehabilitation. The essence of this Redemptive Plan is to give these “first time offenders” who were sentenced to life in prison at a young age, another chance to become productive members of their community.
The primary objective of the Redemption Program is to provide first time offenders in WDOC, who have been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole extended beyond 30 years, an opportunity to petition the court for a modification of their parole/extended supervision date.
Eligibility Requirements–
The following eligibility requirements for the Redemption Program are designed to establish a high criteria that would reduce the risk for the eligible offender to re-offend:
• Must be serving tirne for first offense.
• Has served over 20 years in prison.
• Was convicted between the ages of 16 and 25.
• Has adequate institution adjustment over the past 5 years, including but limited to: o Less than 3 majors. o Less than 6 minors, o Maintained stable institution employment.
• Will not be eligible for parole within the next 10 years.
• Has completed all institutional needs.
Process & Procedure–
The process of seeking a modification under this plan can only be initiated by an eligible offender attending a regularly scheduled Program Review Committee hearing.
A. PHASE ONE
The first phase of this Redemptive Plan involves the active participation of the offender seeking relief under this plan.
Offender Duties and Functions. Every offender seeking to file for a sentence modification under this plan must complete the following task before requesting relief under this plan:
• Have a complete detailed release plan;
• A statement of accountability for the crime charged; and
• Detail three reasons why they think they should receive a sentence modification.
A legible copy of each task must be given to PRC when a request for consideration for a sentence modification is made under this plan.
B. PHASE TWO
The second phase of this Redemptive Plan requires the involvement of the following department or agencies within the executive branch:
Program Review Committee Office of Victim Services Office of the Attorney General Earned Release Review Committee
Program Review Committee (PRC). The primary duties and functions of PRC are to assess the rehabilitative potential of each offender. That assessment shall include, but not be limited to, determining which offenders meet the eligibility requirements cf this plan, and make a written recommendation opposing or supporting a modification of the offender’s sentence. The PRC’s recommendation should include, but not be limited to:
• A description of the crime for which the offender is convicted;
• The degree of the offender’s acceptance of responsibility;
• The offender’s involvement with voluntary institutional programs;
• Whether or not they completed the Restorative Justice program;
• A description if the offender’s completed institutional needs;
• An evaluation of the offender’s institutional adjustment over the past five years; and
• The offender’s release plan.
A copy of the PRC’s recommendation, along with all written documents provided by the offender, shall be forwarded to the Office of Victim Services, the Office of the Attorney General, and Earned Release Review Committee. A copy of PRC’s recommendation shall also be forwarded to the offender.
Office of Victim Services (OVS). The primary duties and functions of OVS are to provide a written assessment of the victim’s feedback regarding the offender’s adjustment while in prison, and the possibility of a sentence modification. That assessment should include, but not be limited to, the gravity of the offense, its impact on the community, and a recommendation from the victim’s advocate concerning the offender’s eligibility for a possible sentence modification under this plan. The victim’s advocate shall be allowed to review the recommendation of PRC. The recommendation from the victim’s advocate should include, but not be limited to:
• Whether they support/oppose the modification of the offender’s sentence;
• The reason they support/oppose the modification of the offenders sentence;
• Specify any needs they would like to see the offender meet now or in the future; and
• Any additional comments the victim’s advocate has to offer.
A copy of this recommendation should be sent to the institution where the offender is currently housed, the Office of the Attorney General, EERC, and the offender.
Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The primary duties and functions of the attorney general are to assess a reasonable legal solution toward preventing over-incarceration. The OAG’s assessment should involve a thorough review of PRC’s and OVS’s recommendations of for each case. A letter indicating whether or not a motion for modification of sentence under this plan would be supported or opposed shall be forwarded to EERC and to all invested parties.
Earned Release Review Committee (ERRC). The duties and functions of the ERRC under this plan would be to assess the offender’s criminogenic factors and risk to re-offend. The EERC’s assessment shall include, but not be limited to, a review the offenders release plan, and the recommendations of PRC, OVS, and OAG. A copy of the EERC’s final recommendation shall be forwarded to the court where the offender was sentenced and to all invested parties.
C. PHASE THREE
The third phase of this Redemptive Plan requires the involvement of the judicial branch; specifically the circuit courts in each county in the state, where eligible offenders must file their motions for modification.
Eligible offenders who receive a favorable recommendations from PRC, ERRC, OVS, and the Attorney General for a possible sentence modification under this plan may file a motion within the circuit court where they were convicted.
Circuit Court. The duties and functions of the circuit court concerning sentence modifications filed under this plan are discretionary. The court shall consider the recommendations of all invested parties when deciding to grant or deny a sentence modification filed under this plan. The grounds to grant or deny a motion for sentence
modification should include, but not be limited to, a thorough re-examination of the same sentencing standards considered at the first sentencing hearing balanced with the rehabilitative potential of each offender.
At the sentencing judges discretion a discretionary hearing may be held so the judge can evaluate the demeanor and appearance of the offender, and hear testimony from all invested parties including the defendant.
Any decision made by the court must be made in writing within 90 days after the motion is filed. A copy of the courts written decision must be delivered to all invested parties.
Appeal Process–
Any offender desiring to appeal the denial of a sentence modification motion may be taken under the same appeal procedures available for a standard sentence modification motion.
Prepared by.
Ivy J. Carter (#206034) Columbia Corr. Inst. P.O. Box 900 Portage, WI 53901-0900

For more information go to: http://www.prisonforum.org
secondchanceforjuvenileoffenders.blogspot.com /2010/05/ivy-carter.html

Pathway to freedom proposal by Bridges and Rogers

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To:  Interested Parties

By:  Roy Rogers 1273696 & Andrae L. Bridges #248420

Re: Redemptive Re-Entry Program (Revised 12/09)

I. INTRODUCTION

This is a proposal for a program entitled Redemptive Re-Entry for juvenile offenders who were waived into adult court between the years 1988-1999, were charged with and convicted of Class A felonies, sentenced to a term of life in prison, with or without parole, and have served a substantial amount of time thus far, ten (10) years or more.

The purpose of this program is twofold as it was initially intended to facilitate the re-entry of offenders who committed crimes as juveniles back into the community. However, the lengthy sentences of said offenders remove any and in some cases, all chances of them ever re-entering the community. Therefore, we have decided that the first and most important purpose of this program is and should be to shorten the lengthy sentences of said juvenile offenders. Which would then give them a realistic opportunity to work towards re-entering the community. It should be noted that this program is aimed at shortening long juvenile sentences ONLY in cases where the offender has shown significant rehabilitation.

II. PROGRAM TARGETS

This program has been designed to target offenders like the authors of this proposal who:

A. Were waived into adult court between the years 1988-1999.

B. Were charged with and convicted of a Class A felony.

C.  Were sentenced to a term of life in prison, with or without the possibility of parole. (In 1992 Andrae L. Bridges was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole until the year 2037. In 1993 Roy Rogers was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole until the year 2020.)

D. Entered an adult correctional institution as a child.

E. Grew up and matured in prison.

F. Have served ten (10) years or more.

G. Have received their HSED/GED’s while incarcerated.

H. Have learned a vocational trade while incarcerated.

I. Have completed both mandatory and non-mandatory programs like AODA, CGIP, Anger Management, Responsible Thinking, etc.

J. Have invested a substantial amount of time in juvenile crime

prevention programs which target at-risk youth/ etc.

K. Have invested a substantial amount of time in/with Victim Awareness, Community Service, and Restorative Justice projects, etc.

L. Have demonstrated positive change through consistent and positive institution adjustment.

M. Have maintained prison employment with good evaluations from employers throughout.

N. Have received tutor certification from Literary Volunteers of America.

O. Who have not only used their time wisely but have matured mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and now truly understand the err in their thinking, and past violent and self-destructive ways.

P. Have taken an active role in bettering their lives by fully cooperating with the rehabilitation process and have thereby allowed their time served thus far to work for them as opposed to against them.

And this program will also target offenders who/ under the normal structure of their sentence will:

A. Never get out of prison. •

B. Eventually get out but at an age where they will be unable to gain and maintain meaningful employment, be independent and self-sufficient, and effect change within the community.

C. Only be released by discretionary action of the parole commission.

III. PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

This program will serve the objectives of:

A. Bringing real meaning to the term Earned Release by giving offenders who committed crimes as juveniles the opportunity to have their sentences reduced as a result of demonstrating their rehabilitative efforts. Thereby proving that one time juvenile offenders such as the authors of this proposal can be rehabilitated without having to spend the majority of their life in prison.

B. Giving one time juvenile offenders the opportunity to;

1.  Be valuable assets to the community.

2. Live out the rest of their life as productive and constructive members of society.          –

3.  Use the skills they’ve learned to prevent others from making the same mistakes as they once did; namely at-risk youth.

C. Easing overcrowding in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and the cost of incarceration.

D. Affirming the Restorative Justice philosophy by connecting the

offender with the community by which they can begin to earn the community’s trust through community service projects of all kinds.

E.Supporting the idealism of Juvenile Justice Reform and the fact that the person you are at the age of fifteen (15) or sixteen (16) is not the person you are at the age twenty-five (25)/ thirty (30), or thirty-five (35) so why must one continue to be punished as such? Hence, if only I knew then what I know now! An excerpt from an article entitled Juvenile Injustice? by Jacquelin Sutton in the Isthmus dated March 7/ 2008 reads as follows:

What the public thinks

A national survey revealed the following attitudes toward juvenile justice reform:

.89% of those surveyed agreed that “almost all youth who commit crimes have the potential to change,” and more than seven out of 10 agreed that “incarcerating youth offenders without rehabilitation is the same as giving up on them.”

. The public supports providing counseling, education and job training programs to youth offenders. Eight out of 10 favor relocating state government money from incarceration to programs that seek to help young people become productive citizens.

. Treatment and services are widely seen as more effective than locking people up. Less than 15% of those surveyed thought incarceration was a “very effective” way to rehabilitate youth.

. More than three-quarters of the public favors keeping non-violent youth in small facilities in their own communities; six in 10 favor community supervision for nonviolent youth.

. The public believes the juvenile justice system treats low-income/ African American and Hispanic youth unfairly. Almost two-thirds of respondents said poor youth receive worse treatment than middle-class youth who get arrested for the same offense.

SOURCE: THE MACARTHUR FOUNDATION “THE POTENTIAL FOR CHANGE: PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND POLICY REFERENCES FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEMS REFORM.”

IV. GENERAL PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS

Although the Redemptive Re-Entry Program can be formatted in many different ways, we have come up with three. These three range from the very simple, void any further programming or group participation; to the very

Complex, which will consist of an assortment of groups and programs. Upon completing one of the three programs described here, the offender will receive a Special Sentence Modification.

A. Special Sentence Modification – A Special Sentence Modification will be just that. Given the fact that this program pertains to one time juvenile offenders who were sentenced to life with either no parole or no parole until the offender has reached an old age, the Special Sentence Modification will change that. In other words, the offender who once had life without parole would receive a reasonable parole date. While the offender who once had life without parole until he has reached an old age will receive a parole date for well before he reaches an old age. ONLY- in cases where the offender has shown significant rehabilitation. These modifications are to be determined by the RRPRC (See: Section V) and other governing bodies. Taking into consideration all relevant factors such as:

1. Offense

2. Sentence

3. Time served

4. Program completion

5. Institution adjustment, etc.

6. Initial A & E program recommendations

7. Pre-Sentence Investigation report

8. Other

Upon receiving a Special Sentence Modification one of the following custody reductions should be granted so the offender might go on to work towards receiving a Special Parole Grant:

1.  Minimum Security/Work Release

2. Halfway House/Work Release

B. Special Parole Grant – One automatically becomes eligible to receive a Special Parole Grant after receiving a Special Sentence Modification simply because with a favorable sentence modification, release should become attainable, thus inevitable. However, while in minimum security and/or on work release one will have to work towards actually receiving the Special Parole Grant. Such work should consist of further programming prescribed by the RRPRC. Perhaps programming similar to the current pre-release curriculum will be sufficient. A Special Parole Grant will simply allow the offender to be released on parole after being reviewed by the parole board; not to be mistaken with the RRPRC.

C. First Program Format – The first and simplest program format for the Redemptive Re-Entry Program does not consist of any further program requirements as the selected participants will have already completed all of their required program needs and some. This does not, however, include pre-release programs. Therefore, the RRPRC will go on to determine whether or not he should receive a Special

Sentence Modification. With that, everything listed under section IV:A & B. This simple review can be conducted at any facility.

D. Second Program Format – The second format is a group type similar to that of CGIP Phases I and II, Anger Management/ or Restorative Justice which can be conducted at any facility. The length of this particular program format would be 4-6 months. The subject matters and overall time frame could change depending upon the needs of the participants. For example, the RRPRC might want to see an individual complete Restorative Justice and re-take Anger Management before determining whether or not he should receive a Special Sentence Modification. In the event of an individual being required to take a specific program(s), it is expected that he will be sent to the facility that offers said program(s). Successful completion results in a Special Sentence Modification and everything listed under section IV:A & B.

E. Third Program Format – The third and final format considered for the Redemptive Re-Entry Program is the lengthiest and most intense when compared to the First and Second Program Formats. Format three is one that should be a unit based program that further motivates participants to minimize their risk of offending by challenging and changing the beliefs and thoughts that support their criminal behaviors and allow them to continue learning, developing, and practicing new skills in order to live a more pro-social life.

The unit should be designed to provide an environment within a medium-security institution to support the delivery of CGIP Phases I-IV, Vocational Training, Tutor Training, Restorative Justice, and other treatment programs. The unit should exist as an alternative community within the institution that helps to isolate the offenders from the anti-social prison subculture. The unit should also encourage involvement in pro-social activities such as support groups and community service. Program length should be 18-36 months. Upon successfully completing the programs on the unit the offender should be granted a Special Sentence Modification and everything listed under section IV:A & B.

Y. REDEMPTIVE RE-ENTRY PROGRAM REVIEW COMMITTEE (RRPRC)

The Redemptive Re-Entry Program Review Committee (RRPRC) should be made up of a group of prison administrators similar to the already established Program Review Committee, with the exception of a judge and/or parole agent being available as sentence modifications and parole grants are at stake. Note; the RRPRC is not to be mistaken with the parole board as it is not the goal of this program to take over the general role of the parole commission. The RRPRC should and must be created to:

A.  Investigate and collect data on the offenders who were waived into adult court between the years 1988-1999, convicted of Class A felonies/ and sentenced to life/ with or without parole.

B. Select the appropriate programs Redemptive Re-Entry Program participants will be required to take and successfully complete, if any/ as many of us have already received our HSED/GED’s/ Vocational Training/ and other programs such as CGIP,  Tutor Training, Restorative Justice, etc. (See: Institution Resumes)

C. Develop a criteria of eligibility for this program; accepting input from prison staff, offenders, law officials, and the community as a whole. This criteria should take offense, sentence, time served, program completion, institution adjustment, etc. into consideration.

D. Review and recommend suitable participants for the Redemptive Re-Entry Program.

E. Determine whether or not a Redemptive Re-Entry Program participant should receive a Special Sentence Modification.

F. Determine what that modification should be.

VI. CONCLUSION

In light of the ever growing WDOC population, budget woes, and the changing roles of the parole commission, the creation of such a program would help alleviate some of the problems. As well as provide programming for a group of offenders that have continuously been overlooked in the development of new programs that tend to target everyone except the type of offenders this program targets. Which means this program will give the WDOC a viable option of WHO to release and HOW to release them. As well as acknowledge that children who committed horrible crimes are not beyond redemption, contrary to what was once popular belief.

The underlying notion of the Redemptive Re-Entry Program is that children who committed horrible crimes should have received stiff sentences. However, when those sentences were handed down judges failed to consider the fact that children can be rehabilitated. And that they can grow to be productive members of society and it doesn’t take a lifetime to do so; which many were sentenced to.

“The court explained that juveniles were less culpable because inexperience, less education, and less intelligence make [a juvenile less able to evaluate the consequences of his or her conduct while at the same time he or she is much more apt to be motivated by mere emotion or peer pressure than is an adult. The reasons why juveniles are not ‘trusted with privileges and responsibilities of an adult also explain why their irresponsible conduct is not morally reprehensible as that of an adult.” 2007 Wis. L. Rev. 729 (pq. 4)

Finally, the Redemptive Re-Entry Program has been revised to bring attention to a specific group of individuals and to better coincide with the efforts of today’s juvenile justice, earned release programs, and the latest efforts of Wisconsin 2009 Act 28. By supporting the Redemptive Re-Entry Program or programs similar to it, the WDOC and justice system as a whole can begin to restore the lives once deemed lost. NOTHING here has been stated for the purpose of excusing or minimizing ones violent and self-destructive childhood behaviors. In fact, that goes against everything this program stands for as it is vital that one take full responsibility for his actions; past/ present/ and future. This proposal is, however, a plea to establish a program which supports today’s efforts of Juvenile Justice Reform and grants second chances. For those who have proven worthy of such. This proposal is also a tentative draft that is subject to change and is open for suggestions, future re-writes, and endorsements until it is in a form that is viable; taking all relevant factors into consideration.

In the interest of Restorative Justice/

Roy Rogers #573696

Andrae L. Bridges #248420

THE LIVES OF JUVENILE LIFERS:

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Click here to read excellent National studies of Juvenile lifer done by The Sentencing Project

https://kidsinprison.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/jj_the_lives_of_juvenile_lifers.pdf

Intro :FINDINGS FROM A NATIONAL SURVEY

Life in prison without the possibility of parole gives no chance for fulfillment outside

prison walls, no chance for reconciliation with society, no hope. Maturity can lead to

that considered reflection which is the foundation for remorse, renewal, and

rehabilitation. A young person who knows that he or she has no chance to leave

prison before life’s end has little incentive to become a responsible individual.

Graham v. Florida, 2010

The United States stands alone worldwide in imposing sentences of life

without parole on juveniles.1 The U.S. achieved this unique position by

slowly and steadily dismantling founding principles of the juvenile justice

system. Today a record number of people are serving juvenile life without parole

(JLWOP) sentences in the U.S. for crimes committed before their 18th birthday.

Sentences of life without parole are often erroneously believed to translate to a

handful of years in prison followed by inevitable release. The reality is that a life

without parole sentence means that the individual will die in prison.

This report provides a new perspective on the population of individuals serving life

sentences without parole for crimes committed in their youth. It represents the

findings of a comprehensive investigation into this population that includes a firstever

national survey of juvenile lifers. Through this effort we obtained in-depth

information from these individuals about their life experiences prior to their

conviction, as well as descriptions of their lives while incarcerated. The findings are

sobering, and should become an element of policy discussion regarding this extreme

punishment.

The sentencing project/research and advocacy for reform

For further information:

The Sentencing Project

1705 DeSales St., NW

8th Floor

Washington, D.C. 20036

(202) 628-0871

http://www.sentencingproject.org

This report was written by Ashley Nellis, Ph.D., Research Analyst at

The Sentencing Project. Extensive research assistance was

provided by Katherine Zafft and Cody Mason. The Sentencing

Project is immensely grateful to the survey respondents who

provided thoughtful and thorough responses to our questions and

who made this report possible.

Established in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and

effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in

sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices,

and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.

The work of The Sentencing Project is supported by many individua