The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY) is proud to release Unusual & Unequal: The Unfinished Business of Ending Life Without Parole for Children in the United States, a new report revealing alarming statistics about the continued imposition of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) in the United States. The report can be downloaded at this link

The imposition of juvenile life without parole is becoming increasingly unusual nationally, and it is applied in increasingly arbitrary and unequal ways. For over 12 years, hundreds of individuals serving JLWOP have not received a second look at their sentences despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v. Alabama mandating new sentencing considerations for youth. These individuals now make up two-thirds of the total JLWOP population, and as they await resentencing, racial disparities have worsened. Of all people sentenced to JLWOP since 2012, 77% are Black – up from 61% pre-Miller.  

“The increasingly arbitrary imposition of JLWOP undermines the constitutionality of sentencing any child to life without parole and should compel states to categorically ban the sentence,” says Rebecca Turner, Associate Legal Director at the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. As of today, JLWOP remains a sentencing option in 22 states.

As the United States is the only known country in the world that permits JLWOP as a sentencing option, the minority of states that permit JLWOP are not just outliers nationally, but globally as well. “As long as life without parole remains a sentencing option for children in any part of this country, we are rejecting the idea of the U.S. serving as a beacon of hope and protector of the most vulnerable in our society,” says Xavier McElrath-Bey, Executive Director of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. “The fact that we continue to ignore the unique possibility of positive change in our children proven through studies of adolescent brain development and childhood trauma, especially when it comes to Black children, should cause us shame and compel us to reconsider our moral obligation to implement legal protections against cruel and unusual punishment for all children.”

The full report can be accessed and downloaded at this link. For more information, or if you would like to arrange an interview, please contact Adam Kemerer at

The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is a nonprofit that leads efforts to ban life-without-parole and other extreme sentences for children, and supports those incarcerated as children who are released after serving long sentences to lead and thrive.