Genocidal Realities

Juvenile Life Without Parole
And THIS is the best of all possible worlds?!?

June 23, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


In speaking to the situation facing Black and Latino people in the U.S.—mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline, the criminalization and demonization of a whole generation of youth, the overt or just-below-the-surface racism prevalent in society, etc.—Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party has said what is taking place is a slow genocide that could easily become a fast genocide. This regular feature highlights aspects of this slow genocide.


The U.S. is the ONLY country in the world—in violation of international law—that sentences youth under 18 years of age to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This status is officially called Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP). Currently, this country has 2,570 juveniles serving JLWOP; 60 percent of youth sentenced to JLWOP are Black, although Blacks make up 16 percent of the total youth population. And youth under the age of 18 face the most extreme sentence of life without parole when they are transferred from juvenile court to be tried as adults in criminal court. 73 of the juveniles sentenced to JLWOP were 13-to-14 years old when they were sentenced and 49 percent of them are Black. The reality is that juveniles who are sentenced to JLWOP will die in prison.

The whole picture is filled out by looking at the startling statistics of Black youth serving juvenile life in prison without the possibility of parole. Black youth are serving JLWOP at a rate 10 times that of white youth nationwide.

California has among the highest rates in the country in sentencing youth to JLWOP; it sentences Black youth 18.3 times more than whites to JLWOP. In Los Angeles County, Black youth are 11 percent of the population and 37 percent of youth sentenced to JLWOP, while white youth are 22 percent of the population, but only 8 percent of the youth sentenced to JLWOP. The ease with which this takes place is reflected in the fact that California allows prosecutors to file in adult court without a juvenile court hearing.

What does all this mean? It means this is the situation for Black youth—some as young as 14 years old—dealing with circumstances they are not responsible for, doing something impulsive, making a mistake, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time—and then locked-up behind bars for the rest of their lives.

Thirteen-year-old Antonio Nuñez was riding his bike near his home in South Central Los Angeles when he was shot multiple times. His 14-year-old, brother ran to help him and was shot in the head and killed. Antonio was critically injured and required surgery. Six months later and a week after returning from Nevada where he had been recovering at his aunt's house, Antonio, now 14, got into a car with two older men he met at a party. One of the men later claimed he was a kidnap victim. The car was chased by plainclothes police in an unmarked car and shots were exchanged, but no one was injured. Antonio was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to JLWOP.

On appeal, in 2009, Antonio Nuñez's sentence of JLWOP was ruled a violation of the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, that it was "unconstitutional to impose that particular penalty for kidnapping.... the Orange County Superior Court resentenced Nuñez to five life terms with the possibility of parole—after he serves 186 years." (Los Angeles Times, October 17, 2009)

Even before the JLWOP death sentence—Antonio and so many others have already been serving unofficial death sentences as they go through daily torment and brutality at the hands of the cruel and unjust system of capitalism-imperialism.

Cries of pain and anguish...

  • "I never had a father and because there was no man in my house, I looked to the gang in the streets for love and support. I started smoking marijuana when I was 15 years old, and to support it, I stole and sold drugs. I stopped going to school because I was not learning or getting help with my learning disability. My mother had a drug problem and was not around that much."
    —Juvenile lifer, Michigan

  • "I was adopted by my grandparents at the age of two. My real parents both died due to drug-related deaths. This is the first and only time I've been in trouble with the law; it was a big mistake and I dread every day of my life. I was 17 years and hanging around the wrong crowd."
    —Juvenile lifer, California

  • "Moreover, his sentence in my judgment violates the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution... He was barely 15 when he committed his crime, he is emotionally and psychologically immature; he is learning disabled and functioned for several years below his peers; he has strong family support; he has never before been in any kind of legal trouble and the evidence in support of his motion [to be transferred to the juvenile court] was overwhelmingly and essentially unrebutted... Sentencing him to life without parole is quite simply hideous and a travesty of justice."
    —Dissenting Opinion of Judge Chapel, Cipriano v. Oklahoma

What kind of system does THIS to youth?

One that has NO RIGHT TO RULE!

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