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Rights groups condemn US juvenile life sentences

[JURIST] Human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Wednesday called on US federal and state lawmakers to change mandatory sentencing schemes under which thousands of juvenile prisoners face the prospect of life sentences without parole. A new joint report entitled The Rest of Their Lives says that some 2225 prisoners are incarcerated indefinitely in the United States for crimes committed while they were minors; some 59% were put away for life for first offences. While researchers said the offenders shouldn't go "scot-free" there should be alterantives allowing the courts to set other types of punishment that are perhaps more effective; the report cites no data suggesting that life incarceration is an effective deterrent to juvenile crime, and notes that many imprisoned juveniles have suffered ill-treatment and abuse, ranging from violence to rape. Review the full report, an executive summary, and a state-by-state breakdown of relevant laws. AFP has more.

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