“Victims don’t want vengeance, they want healing: but there is no healing until justice is done. And justice is never ‘done’ as long as the sentence can be undone.”
NOVJL member, Dawn Romig of Pennsylvania
Dawn’s precious daughter Danni Reese was brutally raped and murdered. Dawn gave testimony September 2008 in Harrisburg about the life sentence in prison being served by the 17 year old killer. Dawn is one of the few victims’ family members in the United States fortunate enough to know about the political battle being waged against “juvenile life without parole” (JLWOP) sentences. Most victims in Pennsylvania have not been told that juvenile advocates are working to potentially free these convicted murderers, and that victims view as a sentence to a lifetime of re-traumatizing parole hearings. Many families achieved at least legal finality with natural life sentences for those who murdered their loved ones.
“Those under 18 years old may as a general matter have diminished culpability relative to adults who commit the same crimes, but that DOES NOT mean their culpability is always insufficient to justify a life sentence.”
~Chief Justice John Roberts, Concurring Opinion, Graham v. Florida, 2010
“Our society tends to treat the average juvenile as less culpable than the average adult. But the question here does not involve the average juvenile.”
~Justice Clarence Thomas, Dissenting Opinion, Graham v. Florida, 2010
“Daniels and several members of his family begged officials to lock up Markus Evans for an extended time . . . [but after Evans only served 14 months in juvenile custody for shooting and almost murdering Daniels, his 7th violent felony by age 15] Evans was released at age 17 with no supervision . . . Evans reported to police he was so angry that he robbed a liquor store and shot the clerk . . .17 year old Jonoshia Alexander . . .was found dead in the alley, shot in the back of her head.”
~Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 29, 2011
“…(T)his legislation as written opens up a tangle of issues that makes its potential impact disturbing. First, a justice system that changes the rules in the middle of the game is not just. Prosecutors and judges already have discretion in seeking and imposing life-without-parole sentences and have reserved it for the ‘worst of the worst.’ . . . All states allow juveniles to be tried as adults in criminal court under certain circumstances, according to the U.S. Justice Department. . . .In all these cases, trials have been conducted, witnesses and victims’ families have testified, everyone has played by the rules. SB 9, however, is retroactive – raising serious constitutional and due-process questions. It does a legislative end run around the intent of the voters who in 2008 passed Marsy’s Law, which strengthened victims’ rights and due process. . . [giving] victims the right to ‘a speedy trial and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.’ SB 9 violates this provision by taking a final conclusion of a case and reopening it . . . retroactively introducing parole reviews for early release after a life-without-parole sentence had been imposed. Because murder victims’ families believed their case was over, they often did not retain the records and contacts they would need to be prepared for new parole hearings – an unfair violation of due process, they say. Importantly, appeals and clemency are already available for sentences deemed too harsh. Last January, for example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger granted clemency to Sara Kruzan, who had been sentenced to life without parole for killing her 37-year-old pimp. ”
Sacramento Bee VIEWPOINT – August 2011 – Recommending a NO Vote on the “Flawed” SB 9 that was defeated.