by Jody Kent
I have been in touch with many people who have been sentenced to die in prison for serious crimes committed when they were teenagers. None of them grew up in communities of privilege where they were surrounded by opportunity. Many of them were told by teachers and other adults in their lives that they had no potential. Some of them were victims of crimes themselves.
All of these young people deserve to be held accountable, but not in a way that simply reinforces the hopelessness that has surrounded them from day one. Instead, the responsible thing to do in a civil society is to empower and encourage young people to fulfill their individual potential. Due to fear and political pressure, our nation has moved away from this approach and too often gives up on young people, even for life.