Challenging Virtual Life - The Slow Death Penalty
This is a picture* of my husband with his brothers taken before one of them recently left to serve the remainder of his time on electronic monitoring.
2 were 16 when they fell, 2 were 17, 1 was 18 and 1 was 22.
1 was sentenced to 159 years, 1 was sentenced to 99 years, 1 was sentenced to 89 years, 1 was sentenced to 65 years, one was sentenced to 60 years, and 1 was sentenced to 55 years.
All were charged as adults and convicted of serious violent felonies in the State of Alaska.
2 have appeared before the parole board and while parole was approved, they were given a 7-year set-off before actual release could take place.
1 went before the parole board and was denied and given a 10-year hit before he can see the board again.
1 will go before the parole board this fall.
1 will not see the parole board until he is 70 years old.
All are now men in their mid to late 40's.
While their actions as teenagers and young adults were reprehensible, they DO NOT reflect permanent incorrigibility. They are not monsters. They are not evil. They are not without remorse for their past actions. All are committed to being better human beings.
In order for these men (and others like them) to have a "meaningful opportunity to obtain release" (Miller v. Alabama), the State of Alaska must allow ALL juveniles tried as adults a fair and impartial parole board review after having served 20 years of their sentence. At that time, it can be determined whether the candidate's behavior still poses a threat to public safety.
To deny the opportunity for parole based solely on "the seriousness of the crime" ignores factual evidence that juveniles do not have the mental maturity to understand the full consequences of their actions. In essence, "they do not harbor the same intentions as adults even when they are performing the same deplorable acts and causing serious consequences, including death", (Mental Health America, LWOP Juveniles).
It has been determined that adolescents have a greater potential for rehabilitation and are therefore excellent candidates for reentry into the community.
Lengthy incarceration serves no legitimate purpose once an individual has demonstrated successful rehabilitation and they no longer pose a threat to society. To continue to deny them the opportunity to obtain freedom is based on retribution alone and NOT in the interest of public safety.
*Photograph posted with permission of those depicted.