UNLV event focuses on life-without-parole sentences for juveniles

By Michael Lyle

January 22, 2015

When he was 14 years old, Marcus Dixon was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 40 years for murder with use of a deadly weapon.

“I messed up,” Dixon said Thursday during a juvenile justice event at UNLV. “I know that. But life without parole for a kid isn’t right.”

His 1999 conviction was for fatally shooting 16-year-old Daryl Crittenden in 1998. After numerous court appeals and appearances before the Nevada Pardons Board, Dixon on Jan. 15 walked out of his cell at Carson City’s Northern Nevada Correctional Facility into a new life.

“It’s like I’ve been waiting for this day my entire life,” said Dixon, now 31.

Dixon’s story is a common narrative among Nevada inmates who were given life sentences without parole as juveniles. The latest research by Nevada legal clerks shows that prison population is at 17.

“In our current criminal justice system, it is legal to sentence children to die in prison,” said Mary Berkheiser, a professor at UNLV’s Boyd Law School and director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic. “We need to change that. The lives of these young men matter.”


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