For more than thirty years, it's been Barry Krisberg's priority to fight for reforms in California's state juvenile correctional facilities, known as the California Youth Authority (CYA) or Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). And now a change is coming at the DJJ.
Back in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sentencing juveniles to life without parole for any crimes besides murder is cruel and unusual punishment.This week the high court took another look at life in prison, except this time for juveniles under the age of 14 convicted of homicide.
NPR reports that currently 79 people are serving life terms for crimes committed when they were 14 or younger. Justice Anthony Kennedy is expected to be the deciding vote on a decision expected by early summer.
This week, US Supreme Court took up the issue of life without parole for juvenile offenders. The question for the justices is whether children who commit murder should have the chance at some point in their lives to prove they should be let free.
A note to readers and listeners: only the first names of children are used in this story.
Christian is 15 years old. And like many teenagers, he’s made some mistakes. “Kinda stupid stuff,” he says. “Like vandalism. Not necessarily graffiti or anything. But yeah. Vandalism.”
And he got caught.
“It’s funny, one little incident can change everybody’s opinion of you,” Christian says. “Like, everybody. At school, like the teachers, from the students, to your family and stuff. But I try not to look at it as a negative or anything.”