(VIDEO) Forever’s Calling; It Wants One Shred of Hope for Kids in Prison

For some crimes, a sentence of life with no possibility of parole may seem like a just and fitting punishment—but to a child?

Forever has its uses, but rehabilitating children is not one of them. (Photo: ‘How Long Is Forever?’ Screen Grab)

Mar 8, 2013
Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

Put in context with the Big Bang, the formation of the universe and Rand Paul’s notion of political expediency, a single human experience of forever is not such a long time. After all, the entire evolution, ascendency and extinction of the dinosaurs occurred in the blink of a cosmic eye.

But in the life of a teenager confined behind prison bars with no possibility of release—except through death—forever stretches out in a series of futile, never-ending days, months, years and decades devoid of color, atmosphere, expectations, hopes, dreams and human potential.

Most adults generally accept as reality that the teens are formative years. A kid, even one who has been involved in taking another person’s life, an act that defines forever, will be a different person 20 years later.

The hope is that the later person, the burnished adult, will be a better version of the juvenile iteration.

Juvenile life without parole sentencing does everything humanly possible to strip away that hope.

By depleting that hope, juvenile life without parole serves to impoverish the person behind bars, and also the rest of us in the outside world.

Stories of juvenile offenders who have emerged from their time of incarceration to give back and improve their neighborhoods, specifically by altering the life trajectories of at-risk youth, and by extension improving the larger universe, are easy to find. Each one of these stories begins with the seizing of a shred of hope.

In concert with the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, you can do something to put hope back into America’s practice of juvenile justice.

Does the fact that a murder victim will never live again justify confining a juvenile offender until that juvenile is old and dead? Explain yes or no in COMMENTS.

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