Thursday, September 20, 2007

and i once believed juvenile lifers was an oxymoron

via boingboing and latin american cultural exchange organization art and outreach in graterford prison, pennsylvania:

Juvenile Lifers for Justice is a collective of prisoners who were arrested as juveniles(under 18 years old) for criminal homicide and are currently serving life sentences without parole in Pennsylvania. There are over 330 juvenile lifers both male and female in Pennsylvania serving life sentences without parole. Some children were as young as fourteen when they were arrested and some have been incarcerated for more than 30 years. Many of us have transformed our lives since our imprisonment by continuing our education, completing treatment programs, and renouncing negative behaviors that led to our imprisonment.

looking at the 16-year-old mannish boy in my house, i can't help but feel something when hundreds of kids his age are getting life-means-life sentences. for copies of the how to play the game booklet, please contact an excerpt:

You are sixteen(16) years old; you probably hate being told what to do by anyone. You hang with your homies; you might blow an "L", you might even carry heat (a gun). People probably hate on you and that might lead to drama here and there. You know like I do that sometimes things can get hectic in the streets, so you might end up using that "heat" in a beef.

In this case you busted your gun and think everthing's cool. WRONG! You get arrested and now the homicide detectives wanna talk to you. You're a soldier though (maybe somebody schooled you about your rights{Miranda}, so you ain't saying nothing to the cops). So you think you're ready for this. Next move, they charge you with criminal tell the police, " I want a lawyer." You're given one you can afford...a Public Defender who might not even know your name. He thinks you should plead guilty. You know nothing about the law in Pennsylvania or the system so you think, " I might beat this...I'm not an adult." Hold up though. The Court has decided to allow the District Attorney to put you on trial as an adult, which means you get punished like an adult, if you're convicted of this homicide. Somebody told you the other day you might get life, but you told him he was crazy and you're not scared. You should be scared! After a quick trial (maybe 3 or 4 days) and cats you thought were "real" and "thorough" testify against you; you are found guilty of first-degree murder. First -degree murder in Pennsylvania means you're not gonna see the streets again; and its not even gonna hit you yet. This happens so fast that it doesn't seem real. Heart-broken and confused, you are cuffed-up and escorted out of the courtroom. You are sixteen, maybe seventeen now, no friends, no freedom, and on your way to a maximum security prison for the rest of your life. What is a juvenile lifer? You!

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