Life Sentences For Juveniles: Should 2,500 Serving Life Without Parole Be Released?

Dec 8, 2004
49,818
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#1


Sara Kruzan, 32, was 17 when she began a life sentence without parole for killing her pimp. Should she be released?

Sara Kruzan was 17 when she was sentenced to die in prison for killing and robbing a pimp in a Riverside motel. Now, at 32, Kruzan has a chance at being freed, along with thousands of other juveniles convicted of murder who were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Those life sentences are coming under increased attack from activists, lawmakers and even the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently struck down mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles as unconstitutional "cruel and unusual" punishment. On Thursday, the California Assembly passed a bill by the slimmest of margins that would give juvenile lifers in that state a shot at freedom.

Nationwide, there are roughly 2,500 inmates who killed as juveniles that are serving life in prison without parole, including 309 California inmates serving such sentences, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

"Because their brain is still developing, they have the ability to rehabilitate," said Michael Harris, a senior attorney at the National Center for Youth Law. "They are more likely to rehabilitate than an adult."

Despite the legal rulings and the legislative activity, some survivors of people killed by juveniles are pushing back and arguing that a life sentence is appropriate punishment for juveniles who commit heinous murders.

"They say they deserve a second chance, but the victims don't get a second chance," said Maggie Elvey, whose husband was murdered in 1993 by two teens during the robbery of his gun shop in Vista, Calif.

The called Thursday a "sad day" because of the California Assembly's passage of a bill introduced by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco. The bill allows lifers to seek a sentence of 25-years-to-life with a chance for parole after serving 15 years. It passed the state Senate last year but failed repeatedly in the Assembly before Democrat lawmakers approved it by a single vote after a heated debate. The bill moves back to the state Senate for final approval. Passage is expected.

Criminal defense lawyer Daniel Horowitz, whose wife was murdered in 2005 by a 16 year old now serving life without parole, largely sides with Elvey.

Releasing most of the thousands of juvenile lifers "would open the gates of hell," Horowitz said.

"We aren't trying to punish these young people," he said. "We are trying to protect the public from this happening again."

Still, Horowitz said Kruzan may warrant an exception because of her compelling life story, which includes sexual abuse at a young age.

Kruzan's case began to garner widespread publicity in 2010 after Human Rights Watch posted a six-minute interview with her on YouTube that received 300,000 hits.

The year culminated with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuting her sentence to 25-years-to-life with the possibility of parole on Dec. 31, 2010, his last full day in office. Schwarzenegger said he still considered her guilty of first-degree murder, but he sympathized with her defense that the man she killed had sexually abused her and served as her pimp for years.

"Given Ms. Kruzan's age at the time of the murder, and considering the significant abuse she suffered at his hands, I believe Ms. Kruzan's sentence is excessive," the governor wrote in his commutation message, "it is apparent that Ms. Kruzan suffered significant abuse starting at a vulnerable age."

Today, Kruzan is fighting for an even bigger reduction of her prison sentence, arguing she killed her pimp as a result of "intimate partner abuse," a defense that has until now been limited to battered wives and girlfriends.

In court documents, Kruzan said her pimp, George Gilbert Howard, began wooing her when she was 11 with ice cream, roller skating outings and rides in his Cadillac. Along the way, Kruzan said Howard sexually assaulted her and coerced her to work the streets of Riverside in Southern California as a prostitute beginning when she was 13.

Kruzan said in her clemency application that when she entered the motel room that night in 1994, all "the fear, anger and panic from all of the past abuse exploded inside of me and I shot him." Howard, 36, died of a neck wound.

Her lawyers are seeking a reduction of her first-degree murder conviction to manslaughter, which would mean her immediate release or a new trial. They contend her case should fall under a 2005 California law enabling domestic violence victims serving lengthy murder sentences to seek shorter ones if their attorneys had failed to invoke domestic violence as a defense.

Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach will decide whether to free her, schedule a hearing or do nothing, letting her life sentence stand. Zellerbach, who has until Sept. 18 to decide, declined comment.

Meanwhile, courts in Florida, California and elsewhere are beginning to examine yet another wrinkle of "extreme" sentences for juveniles: the "de facto" life sentence.

On Thursday, the California Supreme Court unanimously overturned a 110-year sentence of a 16-year-old gang member Rodrigo Caballero for attempted murder, ruling it was essentially an unconstitutional life sentence. The court called on lawmakers to prohibit juvenile prison sentences for non-homicide crimes without a meaningful chance for parole.
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gleet

What's black and white and red all over?
Jul 24, 2005
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#2
Play the odds. Most of them wouldn't do anything good if released.
 

Party Rooster

Unleash The Beast
Apr 27, 2005
40,284
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The Inland Empire State
#5
If the age of consent is 16 or 17, then you're adult enough to know murdering someone is wrong. The pimp killer should be pardoned though. She did the world a favor and sounds like a goer.
 

Warfarer

I can't think of anything funny.
Jun 20, 2005
3,149
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Alabama
#6
If the age of consent is 16 or 17, then you're adult enough to know murdering someone is wrong. The pimp killer should be pardoned though. She did the world a favor and sounds like a goer.

I learned right and wrong when I was about 8, I got caught stealing some baseball cards and got my ass beat. I didn't steal again. You know that killing someone is wrong at any age, especially at 16 or 17. They should have life, they should be executed and, as a society, we need to just move on.
 

THE FEZ MAN

as a matter of fact i dont have 5$
Aug 23, 2002
43,662
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#7
fuck em
 

bill333

Go Screw!
Mar 23, 2005
8,944
1,205
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Orange County,NY - Hudson Valley
#8
Pimps aren't people, at least the whore provides a service. Probably couldn't take the beatings anymore and took the money back, that she sucked strange cock for. Time served

I honestly have no idea what the fuck happened and couldn't care less
 

CougarHunter

Lying causes cat piss smell.
Mar 2, 2006
10,625
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KC Metro
#9
I learned right and wrong when I was about 8, I got caught stealing some baseball cards and got my ass beat. I didn't steal again. You know that killing someone is wrong at any age, especially at 16 or 17. They should have life, they should be executed and, as a society, we need to just move on.
This.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
Dec 9, 2004
24,916
8,991
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Loveland, CO
#11
I'm guessing Sara Kruzan's story was the most sympathetic one of the bunch. That being said, the other 99% of offenders probably don't deserve a second consideration

The called Thursday a "sad day" because of the California Assembly's passage of a bill introduced by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.
Fuck Leland Yee. He recently proposed SB249 in California which would have made thousands of rifles equipped with bullet buttons in the state illegal and subject to confiscation. Luckily the gun groups (and most sheriff departments) successfully lobbied the Legislature not to consider his bill and it was removed from the docket for voting before the assembly recessed.
 

weeniewawa

it's a man, baby!!!
May 21, 2005
12,076
1,267
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Hell,California
#12
they were bad enough to earn a life sentence back then so they need to keep them in now

It was a huge deal on the first place to even mention a sentence of that caliber to someone that young so let them rot

or better yet, make them do slave labor to earn their keep

we do not have enough slave labor in prisons where it is surely deserved

and screw rerand yee in his chop suey hole
 
Dec 8, 2004
49,818
21,443
763
Maine
#13
I'm guessing Sara Kruzan's story was the most sympathetic one of the bunch. That being said, the other 99% of offenders probably don't deserve a second consideration



Fuck Leland Yee. He recently proposed SB249 in California which would have made thousands of rifles equipped with bullet buttons in the state illegal and subject to confiscation. Luckily the gun groups (and most sheriff departments) successfully lobbied the Legislature not to consider his bill and it was removed from the docket for voting before the assembly recessed.
I actually had to look up what a bullet button was... what a waste.

One website actually sold magpul magazines that looked like they held 30 rounds but only held 10... wtf.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
Dec 9, 2004
24,916
8,991
763
Loveland, CO
#14
I actually had to look up what a bullet button was... what a waste.

One website actually sold magpul magazines that looked like they held 30 rounds but only held 10... wtf.
Yeah it's silly but it prevents us Californians from committing felonies for owning an "assault rifle". And 30/10 mags allow us to have a rifle that doesn't look like a neutered puppy at the range.
 
Dec 8, 2004
49,818
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Maine
#15
I'm sure the criminals use bullet buttons equipped rifles and 10 round magazines...
 

Motor Head

HIGHWAY TRASH REMOVAL
Jan 23, 2006
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Land of hicks and rubes.
#16
There should be no blanket law that automatically frees 2500 murderers. They should be decided on a case by case basis. Girl kills her pimp and robs him, kick her loose after 20 years and put her on a long probation in lieu of finishing a harsh sentence. Now say a 17 year old kid did a home invasion and killed somebody, fuck em.
 

Psychopath

I want to fuck your girlfriend.
Dec 28, 2008
19,230
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Constant sate of misery
#19
I'm guessing Sara Kruzan's story was the most sympathetic one of the bunch. That being said, the other 99% of offenders probably don't deserve a second consideration



Fuck Leland Yee. He recently proposed SB249 in California which would have made thousands of rifles equipped with bullet buttons in the state illegal and subject to confiscation. Luckily the gun groups (and most sheriff departments) successfully lobbied the Legislature not to consider his bill and it was removed from the docket for voting before the assembly recessed.
That fuck has been trying to put through legislation that makes M-rated video games sales the equivalent of pornography. The supreme court shut him down after his fourth attempt.
 

transit grinder

Baglin' with the Sex
Apr 16, 2008
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Tennessee
#20
This is a good opportunity for a social experiment. Move them all into a quarantined area to live with one another and... I guess I'm just describing jail.
 
Dec 8, 2004
49,818
21,443
763
Maine
#22
Gat Hooks and Saturday night specials don't need bullet buttons
Yep... When we lived in MA my chick got me that P226 with MA compliant 10 round mags. But due to her permit she had the honour of buying a standard 15 round mag.

Oh not an issue in this state tee hee.

Sent from my Desire HD using Tapatalk 2
 

Pigdango

Silence, you mortal Fuck!
Donator
Jun 22, 2004
77,945
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#23
I don't believe in Life sentences. I'd really like to see more "Automatic Death Penalty" statutes, and also think the Parole board should be modified to double as a Death Panel. So if the crime just misses ADP status, or occurred prior to the institution of those statutes, the panel can be empowered to send a non-rehabilitatable prisoner in front of a judge with a recommendation that his sentence be commuted.... to death.
 

Hudson

Supreme Champion!!!!!
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Jan 14, 2002
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#24
Just one lil legal argument I would bring up:
Age of Reason:
The age at which a child is considered capable of acting responsibly.Under Common Law, seven was the age of reason. Children under the age of seven were conclusively presumed incapable of committing a crime because they did not possess the reasoning ability to understand that their conduct violated the standards of acceptable community behavior. Those between the ages of seven and fourteen were presumed incapable of committing a crime, but this presumption could be overcome by evidence, such as the child having possession of the gun immediately after the shooting. The rebuttable presumption for this age group was based on the assumption that, as the child grew older, he or she learned to differentiate between right and wrong. A child over the age of fourteen was considered to be fully responsible for his or her actions. Many states have modified the age of criminal responsibility by statute.
All states have enacted legislation creating juvenile courts to handle the adjudication of young persons, usually under eighteen, for criminal conduct rather than have them face criminal prosecution as an adult. However, a child of thirteen who commits a violent crime may be tried as an adult in many jurisdictions.
West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved
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