Noting the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to end juvenile life without parole for non-homicide offenses, the Nebraska Democratic Party recently passed a resolution that adds the elimination of JLWOP to their state legislative platform.
The Nebraska resolution states, in part, that:
WHEREAS the United States Supreme Court has again, in Graham v. Florida, reaffirmed the fundamental differences between youth and adults in their ability to exercise judgment, foresee consequences and resist peer pressure, and
WHEREAS the Court has also noted the greater capacity of youth to change, thereby making it impossible to determine at sentencing that a youth cannot be reformed…
THEREFORE be it resolved that the Democratic Party in Nebraska support legislative efforts to eliminate sentences of life without possibility of parole for crimes committed by a youth who has not yet reached the age of 18.
While Colorado eliminated Juvenile LWOP several years ago, the state still practices direct file and consecutive sentencing that can amount to virtual life sentences for kids. In Grand County, 15-year-old John Caudle is being tried as an adult and faces 80 years for allegedly slaying his abusive parents. Children like Caudle cannot forsee the consequences of their actions and have great capacity to learn from their mistakes. They should not, therefore, be subject to abusive practices like consecutive 40 year sentences that ultimately just mean another life lost at great taxpayer expense. Supreme Court members noted the limited scope of their decision by citing Colorado’s consecutive sentencing practices. An adult sentence, whether it is 40, 80, or 120 years for a juvenile does not account for an individual child’s capacity to change.
There is probably no soul sorrier for its master’s mistakes than is John Caudle’s. But the question is: Does his soul deserve redemption or condemnation? And is it the state of Colorado’s purview to make such lasting and ill-begotten judgments on its children? Every religion in the world teaches love and forgiveness and yet here we are as a state encouraging, seeking, enforcing and even disguising the basest revenge we can possibly imagine. The Nebraska Democratic Party clearly isn’t afraid to face its demons. StopDirectFile.org hopes that in next legislative session, Colorado too can come to terms with its own, very fallible humanity.