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H.R. 4300, The Juvenile Justice Accountability and Improvement Act of 2007 (37 comments ↓ | 3 wiki edits: view article ↓)

  • This item is from the 110th Congress (2007-2008) and is no longer current. Comments, voting, and wiki editing have been disabled, and the cost/savings estimate has been frozen.

H.R. 4300 would establish a meaningful opportunity for parole for each child offender sentenced to life in prison.

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tena newsome

June 5, 2008, 11:55am (report abuse)

everyone deserves a chance to be heard especially a minor that got lwop. thats cruel and unusual punishment.

Bill Torbeck

June 10, 2008, 10:17am (report abuse)

Life without parole maybe suitable for some adults.A juvenile spending the rest of their life incarcerated without a parole review should not be tolerated in our so called forgiving society. Charles Manson gets a mandated parole review every five years???????? What are we waiting for?

Rhonda Fausett

June 15, 2008, 8:59pm (report abuse)

We as a country need to change the system, it simply doesn't work. Juvenile life with out is unfair! You can not expect a child to make the correct choices and if they do punish them as children not adults. We need change and we need it now. Give them a chance, the deserve it.

Kris Mangione

July 18, 2008, 4:40pm (report abuse)

As a mother with a son in prison of course I am for this bill. Also for the other 2,499 juveniles in prison all over the country. Watch the video on the web site http://hr4300.com. Ask yourself the same questions; are you the same today as you were at 14 or 16? There has to be some relief for these kids who were thrown away.

sean

August 12, 2008, 1:52am (report abuse)

see what 800 supporters say, sign http://www.thepetitionsite.com/6/petition-in-support-of-hr4300---ending-juvenile-life-without-parole

Tim

August 14, 2008, 11:40pm (report abuse)

I feel that this bill pays no regard to the victims, when do they get a second chance? Many ask am I the same now as I was as 14 or 15? My answer is yes I may be different but I still know as I did when I was 14 or 15 that taking another life is wrong and that I would go to jail when caught. I ask how is it unfair to sentence a cold blooded killer to life in prison? In my case they planned for days on how they lure some to a vacant house stab them to death and steal there car. The intent was murder for a car they both confessed to that. Not just a stabbing a brutal stabbing 26 times with a 6 in filet knife and then almost decapitated my brother head. My brother only 28 at the time of his brutal death doesn't get a second chance. I don't get a second chance why should the ones who took his life??? I feel that know one has even given thought to us victims, what about are rights? should I be sentenced a life sentence of wondering if my brothers murderer will be freed.

Kris

August 28, 2008, 4:08pm (report abuse)

In response to Tim. I am so sorry for your family. I completely understand what you are saying. It isn't fair and "Yes", people do think about the victims & their families. I think about the female victim/family and her daughter everyday. She has grandchildren that she didn't get to see grow up.

There are juveniles in prison for Life without Parole who didn't committ the crime. They were charged with complicity, at the scene, but didn't participate. Some had no idea a crime was going to be committed. These are the ones they most likely will look at upon gaining a parole hearing.

Kathy

September 7, 2008, 10:19pm (report abuse)

Years ago I was the victim of a very serious crime. Now I work in a prison. I want to tell you that thoughtless youth can, and many do mature to become individuals who know right from wrong, who go to work at their jobs in the prison every day earning pennies, but work hard. I've seen prisoners who take care of the sick and aging prisoners with compassion. There are JLWOP who have graduated from high school and college in prison. There are JLWOP whose lives have changed so dramatically that they deserve to be considered for parole. Even if I was their victim. I was taught as a child that 2 wrongs don't make a right. My heart goes out to the families of victims, who will never have a chance to regain their loved one. But to deny juveniles even the right to appear before a parole board is wrong. Each inidivual must be considered, case by case.

Andre Turner

September 10, 2008, 2:49pm (report abuse)

support HR4300! I personally know someone who has life without parole. Everyone has made a decision in their lives that has had negative consequences.

shelly oladeru

September 13, 2008, 1:28pm (report abuse)

yes i do support this bill, and myself does know someone who has life withoud parole, and was just a kid when it happened and i think he derserves a 2nd chance, please God i really know your the only one that can make this happen. I pray for the ones that really deserve this one.

Clare O'Keefe

September 16, 2008, 10:58am (report abuse)

The brains of children and adolescents are still developing and this affects how they make decisions and how they evaluate different situations.

Locking up a 13 year old child in prison for the rest of his life without the chance of parole is unconstitutional.

The United States is the only country to have this severe sentencing for minors.

Jody

September 20, 2008, 7:06pm (report abuse)

In response to Kris,

You may think of the poor victims in your case but my problem is that every hearing that is held every news story and any other thing is all one sided. When do any off you hear of the victims?? We still suffer and now thanks to all this legislation we get to suffer some more. I just want the victims side heard.

Magilv

September 23, 2008, 2:46am (report abuse)

This is the BIGGEST BLACK Mail Bill

I have ever seen.Thank you to Tim & Jody for your so true feelings. You are not alone. Once the Victim is dead and buried, the perpetrator becomes the victim and no more thoughts are given to the

real victim and their loved ones who must suffer for life. My husband was held down and brutally beaten over the head, receiving 25 skull fractures with a metal pipe by a 15 yr old and a 16 year old juvenile.The 15 year old has been out for 6 years, the 16 year old received the appropriate sentence of LWOP. Now I have to worry about the bleeding heart liberals managing to get the killers sentence reduced. My husband does not get his sentence reduced. Where have we gone so wrong in America that has become okay to commit murder and expect to walk the streets again?

The day our loved ones can walk the face of the earth again is the day the Perpetrator can be released.

Visit www.jlwopvictims.org

Janice P. Zalobsky

September 23, 2008, 1:54pm (report abuse)

Why bother putting them in jail at all? Just tell them to be stop that and be good. Give me a break. If they're old enough to do the crime; they're old enough to do the time. Maybe it will give pause to the next gang banger who is thinking of a violent act.

Carol Krieger

September 23, 2008, 7:01pm (report abuse)

I ask the question all the time, What makes these criminals think they should have freedom walking the streets after they have committed such awful crimes? They should have to pay with life in prison for the life they have taken from their love ones. LWOP is the way it should be. They do not deserve to be free for the citizins to have to worry about them committing another crime. There was no 2nd chance for the person they murdered. Why should the murder get one, no matter how young they were? Vote no on this Bill

elktaker

September 24, 2008, 9:23am (report abuse)

I am sick and tired of the whining about how unfair it is for someone to be in jail the rest of their life for a crime they committed. NO ONE is out there lobbying for the victim of the crime. WHEN does the DEAD victim EVERY get a second chance? These bottom dwelling scum suckers are lucky they weren't put to death.

LWOP is way to easy on these poor little murderers, rapists, car theives and drug dealers.

Survivor

September 24, 2008, 11:59am (report abuse)

In 1991, my youngest son was murdered by a 15 year old boy with a record dating back to AGE 5! Because of the laws at the time (@ that time LWOP wasn't an option for juveniles), this boy was given only 8 years - the maximum allowed then. The judge even apologized to us & said he wished he could lock him up for life. But my family & I are only the tip of the iceberg.

"They're 'just children'?" Even children know right from wrong. The juvenile criminals CHOSE to commit their crimes - their victims HAD NO CHOICE.

"It's 'cruel & unusual punishment'? Cruel & unusual punishment is the survivors of the innocent victims having to visit their loved ones the only way they can - at the cemetery.

"They've reformed/graduated high school/gone to college/helped other prisoners etc. etc."? As a correctional officer once told us: "Yes, they 'found God' while incarcerated - & they left Him in the broom closet when they were let out." Check the recidivism rates.

Rosemary Mulligan

September 24, 2008, 4:28pm (report abuse)

Each case needs to be heard on its own merit. However, once convicted of murder, Do those individuals, that know right from wrong, and choose to take anothers life belong amongst society? The pain, anquish, and suffering of those left behind dictates society be protected from those who made the choice to murder.

Elaine M. Rondeau

September 24, 2008, 5:53pm (report abuse)

We say NO to H.R.4300.

more deliberation is necessary.

Our daughter was murdered by two recidivist criminals, who began their lives of crime at the age of 12 and 14. They murdered our daughter at the age of 31 and 34 after all of these years of crime.

The male murderer committed 52 crimes in a 17 year period and beat a murder rap when he was 17.

No rehabilitation was given to them.

Society, as well as these two should be held accountable.

The justice system is broken and needs to be fixed.

NO, NO, NO TO H.R.4300.

Write to me at aammen@att.net and visit my web at www.rorpf.org for more dialogue on this serious problem.

Gordon/Father of Renee

September 24, 2008, 6:01pm (report abuse)

No to H.R.4300

My family and I have received the Life Sentence, as well as 20,000 to 30,000 families each year for the past decade whose lives have been destroyed by these juvenile offenders.

They should have equal time; no difference between them and an adult.

Youth, even though not as experienced in life's problems as adults, STILL have the same responsibility of not killing.

If society would solve the problems which lead to youth committing crimes, such as early childhood education, parenting classes, after-school programs, poverty, unemployment, i.e. the vast discrepancy between the rich and the poor, perhaps these youth would not be led to a life of crime.

These juveniles who have committed heinous crimes SHOULD receive LWOP.

They crossed the line, they committed heinous crimes.

They should NEVER be allowed into society again.

Let's begin by focus on crime prevention in the first place, and NOT BE FOCUSING ON THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY CROSSED THE LINE.

Rick

September 24, 2008, 10:08pm (report abuse)

I am a Conservative. I think people should take responsibility for their actions. You would think I would be opposed to this bill. But I'm not. You see, I've had my eyes opened to my "throw the key away" attitude because my brother is serving life without parole in Pennsylvania. He was 16 when he killed a 14 year old friend. 27 years ago. It was the first time he got in trouble with the law. He has been a model inmate, gotten a degree in jail, teaches other inmates, and has never been written up for one infraction in 27 years.

Why are juveniles tried as adults for murder, but if they steal a car they are juveniles? How does the crime change their age or mental development?

Yes, they did a terrible thing. They deserve punishment, no doubt. But it is wrong to think of them as adults simply because of the type of crime they committed.

And everybody, especially these people who made such a big mistake in their youths, deserves a chance for forgiveness.

Elaine/Mother of Renee

September 25, 2008, 4:31pm (report abuse)

Renee was a contributing citizen of the world and would have given the two who murdered her the shirt off her back, offered them a job, etc.

But instead these two who led lives of crime from age 12 and 14, a female and a male, chose to murder her for $8.00 for their heroin habit and $300.00 from her ATM card. I firmly believe that juveniles who committ these crimes are behaving in no different way from adults. They deserve to be removed from society. Society also should be held accountable for the state of the union, i.e., the vast discrepancy between the haves and the have nots. Many of the comments state that their loved ones committed murder during youth and that they should be given another chance at life. WHAT CHANCE DID THEY GIVE OUR DAUGHTER or the hundreds of thousands murdered over the past decade. NO TO H.R. 4300, keep them put away forever. If they teach others while in prison, good, that is their contribution to society and they should stay there in prison.

Starr

September 25, 2008, 8:23pm (report abuse)

My position is to keep the violent offenders in jail where they belong. These people will never be rehabilitated to safely live among our society.

Kris

October 7, 2008, 3:28pm (report abuse)

In response to ALL who are against the HR 4300 bill. I repeat !!!!

There are juveniles in prison for Life without Parole who DIDN'T COMMITT THE CRIME OF MURDER. They were charged with complicity, for being at the scene, but didn't participate. Some had no idea a crime was going to be committed.

These are the ones they most likely will look at upon gaining a parole hearing.

My heart goes out to all of the victim's families.

Jennifer

October 23, 2008, 12:32pm (report abuse)

The National Organization of Victims of "Juvenile Lifers" has well-founded concerns about the details of HR 4300. More info at www.jlwopvictims.org.

To those concerned about the killers serving life who were younger at the time of their brutal crimes: the model proposed in this bill is the WORST POSSIBLE for victims families.

It is NOT the only way.

Parole transfers the life sentence from offender to victim.

To Kris and others: this bill has NOTHING to do with those who are innocent. There are appeals courts who alone can address that problem.

Parole hearings force victims into a re-traumatizing and un-ending constant re-engagment with the offender.

For offenders Parole is a very discriminatory and ineffective system.

And 22 states have determinate sentencing with no parole structure at all. This bill is ignorant of the diverse legal structures in all the states.

We propose examining mandatory transfer methods by which juveniles enter the adult system.

Kris

October 28, 2008, 3:56pm (report abuse)

Jennifer, you are right ! The bill is ignorant of the diverse legal structures in all states.

I believe this bill is the only hope for JLWOP who have timed out in all their appeals. They have no other recourse. I believe each state will have to re-organize and make changes to their laws.

I also agree that examining mandatory transfer methods is another thing each state needs to look at. In 1994 the juvenile law was applied to ALL juveniles, even ones who did not committ the crime. That is why there are so many in prison who do not deserve to be.(Not the rest of their life.)

I don't know the answer of causing the victims family to re-live the horror, or the re-traumatizing of the memory of the crime. I'm so sorry that you all have to re-live this when a parole comes up.

But how do you all feel about a teen that was charged with complicity in a crime ? Do you think he/she should serve a "life without parole" sentence, even though they did not committ the crime ?

Fourtruth

October 28, 2008, 5:38pm (report abuse)

I find all of the victim comments to be venomous and filled with malice. The hatred and unforgiveness displayed is probably more dangerous than the criminals themselves. Unfortunately the wounds you have suffered run very deep and have not had a chance to heal. Before passing judgement on others, I hope you can take a hard look at yourselves. It could be you in their place.

Victims do not have to re-live the horror of the crimes if they choose to forgive, turn from their anger and get on with their lives. You are not required to be a victim all your life. You choose to be one.

Youngmin

October 28, 2008, 6:04pm (report abuse)

There are many facts, national and international reports and well validated, researched documents on the subject of juvenile justice and the many issues that surround our current justice practices. While the victims of these horrible crimes have suffered much, there are very valid points that are raised on behalf of the young people serving these sentences. Many are serving LWOP for felony murder. This charge requires that judges sentence anyone who may have been in any way involved as if they committed the crime themselves. They have no choice, that is called mandatory sentencing. Many serving these sentences committed crimes against their abusers.

Please take the time to read and educate yourselves, as victims, so that we can come to a place of understanding.

Please know that no one can ever understand the pain of this kind of violent loss. Our hearts are with you.

Humberto B.

November 3, 2008, 9:39am (report abuse)

I'm all for this bill on a case by case basis.I don't beleive that a 15,16 or a 17yr old has the mental capacity of a 30 or 40yr old man.Yes i beleive in punishing criminal offenders but to throw a child offender away in prison for life is not the answer.Child offenders are amendable and we need to support this bill.

Shirley

November 5, 2008, 7:44pm (report abuse)

i am against young children serving life in prison without parole. EVERYONE deserve a 2nd chance.

Jennifer

November 16, 2008, 7:13pm (report abuse)

Fourtruth, you clearly have never had a beloved child deliberately murdered by another human being. Your comments reflect not only harmful ignorance but callous disregard. Victim is a legal term - one we have no choice in using. A young man chose to kill my pregnant sister and her husband - just for the thrill of it - he wanted to see what it would "feel like to shoot someone." My parents did not CHOOSE to be victims. My beautiful young sister at age 25 with her whole life ahead of her did not CHOOSE to be killed. The killer did that - and with wreckless disregard. If you want to work reforms to the JLWOP sentence, you are going to have to learn to not only talk to victims families - and with sensitivity and respect - but also how to build consensus around solutions to problems that you are concerned about. I am sorry for you - but even more for offenders behind bars hoping for people out here to help them and YOU being the kind of person that is helping them. You are not helping.

Jennifer

November 16, 2008, 7:18pm (report abuse)

Kris - you asked about JLWOP sentencing under "accountability theory" or felony murder laws. How do I "feel" about it? Its ALL tragic - feelings on all sides I am sure will reflect nothing but sorrow and tragedy all around. But what should we DO about it? Well, there are accomplices, and there are accomplices . . .the 17 year old gang member who hands the 15 year old the gun and says shoot him - no question, he is equally culpable. But the poor dummy just along for a ride whose worst mistake was his choice of friends? Of course the law should recognize those differences. And for the most part - DOES recognize those differences. Obviously where the system needs revising, advocates should work to better define what kinds of felony murder laws should apply to juveniles.

Thank you for your sensitive approach to victims of these cases.

NOVJL

www.jlwopvictims.org

Jhope4

December 17, 2008, 1:24pm (report abuse)

All have made bad choices and bad decisions in our lives noone is better then anyone else,no sin is greater then another sin,sin is sin.Yes children do know right from wrong many lack the guidance and tools that they need to be productive, all the pain and suffering we all go through in our lives was never intended to break us down but to build us up once we can grasp this truth, you see clear.We all learn by going through suffering and pain it builds our charachter who we are as individuals we have learned through our Life experiences wheather good or bad. Showing mercy forgiving someone who doesin't deserve it is true forgiveness, you can have the memory of the pain of losing a loved one but you have the choice to not carry the hurt to go on give back to a individual what we ALL need and long for Hope,Forgiveness,Mercy to all people. there is not one individual here posting that has not been shown forgiveness and mercy by someone in your life no not one.

jhope4

December 17, 2008, 1:53pm (report abuse)

No one choses hardships in their lives but you are 100% assured trials and tribulations come, How do you handle it determines who and what you are as a individual. carry anger and resentment and unforgiveness in your heart makes you no better then the murderer,it's ok to be angry but have self control don't show it in a negative way instead use it to become a better individual for yourself and others around you.The only ignorance here is the lacking of knowledge of what Love and forgiveness true forgiveness is.Be examples of this and people will follow which promotes productive youth.if you chose to carry unforgiveness it will destroy you and cause you to be bitter this is the choice many make,it's not the right choice either.Forgiveness is the right choice.Would your loved ones want you to be bitter or forgive? what Good does it do if you only Love those who Love you?

jhope4

December 17, 2008, 2:17pm (report abuse)

What we as the people are to do put forth effort in a positive way that leads these young youth down a path that is Good and right for them,starting programs that initiate positive discipline going back to the fundamental basics teaching Self discipline-self worth- self control-placing individuals who have mastered these areas in their lives, giveing knowledge that these youth may have not recieved as children, this approach is positive and good for all that are involved victims and non victims the outcome would be productive compassionate understanding adults it would create strong leaders. Harsh punishment leads to more aggresive behavior, there is always consequences for our actions lets create positive solutions not negative ones then we would see improvements in our youth. a negative circumstance is a oppurtunity to make a positive impact in someones life. Big diffence in punishment and Discipline. We learn from discipline,opposite from punishment.

TERI

December 22, 2008, 10:34am (report abuse)

I SUPPORT THIS BILL. READ LINK BELOW FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND YOU WILL SUPPORT IT TOO.

http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/2008/us1005/us1005execsum.pdf

reapwhatyousow

December 22, 2008, 1:30pm (report abuse)

The juvenile offender's responsible maturity and empathy for their victims and previous way of living will be demonstrated in their acceptance of society's current punishment for their crime. They will then work from the inside to help our troubled society and victim's families. Those that are still crying to get out, the offenders and relatives alike, lack a basic understanding of the association of action and reaction, cause and effect and the ABILITY to take responsibility for they do or have done and respect for the lives of others. Forget the past-save the future-stop being so selfish-work with what you've got now where you are to help others for the betterment of society. The crime was a CHOICE and so is acknowledgement and acquiescense to the consequences. Take on a new outlook and respect for Life. Teach respect for Life. Passing this bill is not necessary but further examination and change to our American value system and way of thinking is.

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