Schubert Supports New Guidelines for Children Facing Life in Prison

CFSY LogoThe Schubert Center endorsed a new report of guidelines for representing children who face a life sentence. The report, Trial Defense Guidelines: Representing a Child Client Facing a Possible Life Sentence was released by the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY) on March 11.

The CFSY guidelines were announced just one day after the United Nations special reporter on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Méndez, released a report urging the United States to end its practice of sentencing juveniles to life prison sentences without the possibility of parole. Read more about the report from the UN:

Read more about the Defense Guidelines from CFSY:

More on the guidelines from CFSY:

Children are constitutionally and developmentally different from adults, making the representation of children in adult court facing a life sentence a highly specialized area of legal practice.  However, many court structures and personnel — including prosecutors and judges — fail to account for the characteristics of childhood. The objective of the Guidelines is to set forth a national standard of practice to ensure zealous, constitutionally effective representation consistent with the standards established by the Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama. The Guidelines draw from the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases in the capital context and the NJDC National Juvenile Defense Standards in the juvenile court context.  

Leaders and experts in the field of youth defense agree these Guidelines are essential to ensure adequate due process for our children facing life in prison, illustrated in the comments to the left. Read what they had to say.

The Guidelines have been endorsed by numerous public defender and advocacy organizations at the national and local levels, including Gideon’s Promise, Juvenile Law Center, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Association of Public Defense, National Juvenile Defender Center, Southern Center on Human Rights, and Southern Poverty Law Center.  The broad support for the Guidelines reflects the very real need for national standards for the representation of children facing life sentences, and we are committed to working with our partners to ensure that the Guidelines are implemented across the country.

We are thankful for the commitment of everyone who participated in the creation of the Guidelines and for every organization that has voiced support. We are hopeful that the nationwide and ever-growing commitment to the principles established in the Guidelines will work to ensure that no child is sentenced to die in prison.