Published on: Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Eleven years ago this month, the Supeme Court held that mandatory life-without parole sentences for all children 17 or younger was unconstitutional. See Miller v. Albama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012)Today, the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth reports that "1,000 individuals who were sentenced to life in prison as children are now FREE!"  Full story here.

The Campaign noted some compelling facts about this group of individuals, now freed: 

  • RECIDIVISM RATES OF FORMER JUVENILE LIFERS ARE EXTREMELY LOW: BETWEEN 0 AND 2%. A study in Louisiana found the recidivism rate of those who were sentenced to juvenile life without parole to be 0% while a study in Pennsylvania found it to be 1.14%. The national recidivism rate is reported to be between 40% and 68%.
  • THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF YEARS THESE 1000 FORMER JUVENILE LIFERS SERVED IS EXTREMELY HIGH: 30 YEARS. The median time served for homicide in the U.S. is 17 years according to statistics from the federal bureau of justice – up from less than six years before the year 2000.
  • THE AVERAGE AGE UPON RELEASE:  47 YEARS OLD. While teenagers are more prone to break the law, most who commit serious crimes mature out of a tendency to break laws around 25 years old, according to criminologists, biological brain researchers, and decades of experience.
  • AMERICANS OVERWHELMINGLY BELIEVE THESE 1000 HAVE A CAPACITY FOR POSITIVE CHANGE: 70%. Over two-thirds of Americans agree that children who receive lengthy sentences should have their sentences reviewed by a judge or parole board after no more than 15 years, with the opportunity for release. This majority holds across race, age, gender, political affiliation, and education.
  • THE LONGEST SERVING AND OLDEST TO BE FREED: JOE LIGON. Locked up at age 15, Joe Ligon became the nation’s longest-serving juvenile ‘lifer.’ at 83, he became the oldest to be freed.