In the past decade, there has been a trend of rejecting life-without-parole sentences for children across the nation. Lawmakers and advocates spanning political affiliations have embraced this policy reform that recognizes children’s unique capacity for change.
Ten of the 27 states that have banned juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) are conservative-leaning, red states. In fact, Kansas was the first state to ban JLWOP in the nation, pre-empting key Supreme Court decisions that catalyzed many state bans. Texas, Wyoming, and West Virginia were among the first ten states leading the national trend. In progressive states, many Republican lawmakers have been leaders, bill sponsors, and key supporters of this reform.
“This policy shift has been a victory for conservatism,” says Logan Seacrest, Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties Fellow at the R-Street Institute. “Permanently locking up children is incompatible with the values of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and the right to life and liberty.”