Why does the US allow children to face decades in prison? | TV Shows

On Monday, June 27 at 19:30 GMT:
Almeer Nance was 16 years old when he and two others participated in an armed robbery that ended in the murder of a store manager in the state of Tennessee, USA.

But despite not firing the fatal shot in the 1996 Knoxville attack, Nance was tried as an adult, found guilty of felony murder, and later sentenced to a minimum of 51 years in prison. In contrast, another juvenile accomplice received only a one-year term.

Nance’s case is the focus of the new Fault Lines movie.”51 years behind the bar“. The documentary looks at Tennessee’s strict laws on the mandatory minimum sentence for murder – being challenged at state supreme court – and follow Nance’s family and supporters as they fight to bring him home.

While Tennessee has some the law of sentencing and punishmentOther U.S. states also take a harsh stance when it comes to prosecuting juveniles – especially children and youth of color. Thirteen US states, including Tennessee, have no minimum age for kids to try as adults. “Children under the age of eight can still be charged as adults, held in adult prisons and sentenced to death in adult prisons.” Equal Equity Initiative says.

The contrast between the treatment of children and young people by the courts and prison systems of the United States and some other parts of the world is stark. In Germany, children under the age of 14 are not criminally liable, while in the Netherlands the age of criminal responsibility is 12.

Recently, some US states have adopted a more progressive approach. Massachusetts in 2018 raise age court jurisdiction for minors 7 to 12 – part of a broader revision of judicial laws that has resulted in a reduction in rates arrest and jail for young prisoners. Supporters of US reform say that adopting restorative justice is an effective way to rehabilitate juvenile offenders and repair the damage caused by crime, while addressing the nation’s high recidivism rate.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll take a look at “51 Years Behind Bars,” ask why so many children and young adults convicted of crimes in the United States face such punitive sentences, and see Consider possible reforms.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Rahim Buford, @Rahimbuford
Director, Unheard Voices Outreach

Rafiah Muhammad-McCormick
Outreach Coordinator, Tennesseans for Death Penalty Alternatives (TADP)

Michael Bochenek, @MichaelBochenek
Child Rights Senior Advisor, Human Rights Watch

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