A few days back, on an idle Friday evening, I had been drooling over the homepage of my facebook account, skimming through status updates, the unlimited number of groups and fan pages, quizzes…and what not. However, at one point, my eyes caught sight of the title of a video posted by someone, which sent stimulating impulses through my lazy brain and made me sit up straight. The title read “Sara Kruzan: Sentenced to Life Without Parole at Age 16”. Even with my very little knowledge of jurisdiction rules and regulations, I knew that something was wrong with it. I mean, I had never before heard of a case where someone under the age of eighteen was sentenced for life, that too without the option of having a parole. Without a moment to spare, I started watching that video.
It was about an American girl from California named Sara Kruzan, who was sentenced for life for killing a 31-year old man who used to sexually abuse her and make her work as a prostitute. Before Sara had met this man, she had been an over-achiever in school. Since her single mother was a drug addict and abused Sara, she initially sought a father-figure and so happily listened to the man. After three years, when Sara could no longer tolerate his tortures, she killed him. However, she was only sixteen years old back then, not knowing exactly what “moral scruples” mean. Now, at the age of 29, she has changed a lot. Although she tries very hard to educate herself and make the best of her life, there is not much inspiration for her in living when she knows that she is going to die inside prison. She has not been given a second chance in life despite the fact that she is now a totally different person. She herself admits that she should be punished for her actions, but she does not understand whether the punishment should be this extreme.
Sara is just one of the 2270 cases in USA where minors are sentenced for life imprisonment without parole. I found this quite shocking because when a person has not yet reached the mental development of an adult, he/she is not capable of making rational decisions in every case. That is the age when actions are governed more by emotions than by logical thinking. Moreover, in my opinion, it is reprehensible to give adults the opportunity of parole while eliminating that option for juvenile criminals. Apparently, adults have a much better ability to make cool-headed decisions that are manipulated less by their emotions. In addition, there is much less probability for an adult to turn over a new leaf when compared to the probability for juvenile criminals. Characteristics related to personality and behavior are not fully developed in minors: they still undergo the process of molding. When they are directly sent to lifetime imprisonment with no second chances, they tend to have the idea that there is no point in improving themselves since they are already doomed for eternity. What I found even sadder was that many of these minors committed the crimes as self-defense against some kind of abuse inflicted on them.
However, the most puzzling aspect of this entire issue to me is that there are 2270 such cases in USA, a country famous for defending human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights…and any other kind of rights that might be present. In contrast, only twelve such cases are found in the rest of the world. With 81% of the people living in the West coast of USA voting against this law, I think that it is high time that rules and regulations in this field need to be rewritten.