American Bar Association Calls for End to Sentencing Children to Die in Prison


The American Bar Association (ABA), the country’s foremost legal membership organization representing nearly 400,000 prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, and other lawyers, on February 9 approved a resolution urging the elimination of life-without-parole sentences for youthful offenders.

The resolution further urges federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to provide youthful offenders with meaningful periodic opportunities for release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.

“With the adoption of Resolution 107C, the American Bar Association has sent a clear message to the legal community and policymakers across the country that children should never be sentenced to die in prison,” said ABA President, William C. Hubbard. “As the world’s foremost leader and defender of human rights, the United States should ban life without parole sentences for children – a severe violation of human rights. The ABA applauds those states that have already taken steps to reform their laws and urges other states to pass similar reforms as soon as practicable.”

The resolution received a favorable vote from the U.S. Department of Justice when it was heard by the Criminal Justice Section last fall, and was approved during the ABA’s Midyear Meeting in Houston, made up of 560 delegates from state, local, and other bar associations and legal groups from across the country. It joins national organizations including the American Correctional Association, the National Probation and Parole Association, the National PTA, and the National Association of Counties in calling for an end to juvenile life-without-parole sentences.

The United States is the only country in the world known to sentence its children to die in prison, and the United States and South Sudan are the only countries that have not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the imposition of life-without-parole sentences upon children. Somalia ratified the treaty last month.