Arkansas Abolishes Life Without Parole for Children!

CFSY Senior Advisor & National Advocate Xavier McElrath-Bey, Arkansas Representative Rebecca Petty, and Linda White

Dear friends,

Amazing news! Arkansas, a state that ranks sixth for sentencing the most youth to life without parole, has abolished the sentence for youth under the age of 18! It becomes the first state in the Deep South to abolish this inhumane sentence for young people.

More than 100 people sentenced to die in prison for crimes committed as children now have hope of a second chance at life outside of prison.

After two years of our efforts led by Advocacy Director & Chief Strategy Officer James Dold, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 294 yesterday. Efforts failed two years ago when a legislator whose daughter had been murdered opposed the bill. It wasn’t until meeting with Campaign Senior Advisor & National Advocate Xavier McElrath-Bey and Linda White, a longtime CFSY partner who advocates for an end to life without parole for youth despite losing her daughter Cathy to youth violence, that the legislator not only dropped her opposition, but became a lead sponsor, championing the measure in the House to ensure its passage. Bipartisan support followed, and the bill passed overwhelmingly.

Please join me in celebrating this monumental win, not just for the people in Arkansas who now have a second chance at life, but for the opportunity it creates to spread reforms to other states across the country. With this win, the number of states banning life without parole for youth has nearly quadrupled since 2012.

As ever, I am confident we will end life without parole for youth once and for all.

Thank you for helping to make victories like these possible.


Jody Kent Lavy
Executive Director

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