Rare commutation highlights the excessive nature of life without parole sentences for youth
The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Monday, January 3, 2011
Yesterday, Sara Kruzan’s life without the possibility of parole sentence was commuted by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to a 25 years to life sentence with parole eligibility. He wrote that, “given Ms. Kruzan’s age at the time of the murder and the significant abuse she suffered at his hands, I believe her sentence is excessive.” This decision provides a second chance for a young woman who was told at sentencing that she was undeserving and would die in prison.
Sara was two months past her 16th birthday when she shot and killed a well-known pimp who began sexually abusing her when she was just 11 years old. When she was 13, he began prostituting her and now at 32 years old, Sara has spent more than half of her life in prison. During her 16 years incarcerated, Sara he has been a model inmate, begun taking college courses and received a 2010 Honor Dorm “Woman of the Year” award from prison guards.
“While we commend the governor for acknowledging Sara’s unjust sentence, young people convicted of serious crimes should not have to rely on the modest and rare opportunity that Governor Schwarzenegger has afforded Sara Kruzan,” said Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth Director and National Coordinator, Jody Kent.
“Shamefully, the United States stands alone in the world in its practice of sentencing youth to life without parole. It is cruel and unnecessary to impose such a harsh punishment on young people, who we know have a greater capacity to change and grow just as Sara has. Instead, our laws should reflect what we know about young people and ensure that youth convicted of serious crimes are given meaningful periodic reviews later in life to determine whether they can return to our communities safely. ”
“I know that Sara sends her deepest gratitude to all of her supporters.” Kent continued, “this small victory was hard won by a broad coalition of advocates working in California and across the country, however there is much more work that needs to be done to bring the United States in line with the rest of the world and prohibit life without parole sentences for people under age 18.”
See Sara’s Story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGL_p7BcJqk&feature=player_embedded
The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is a national campaign dedicated to ending the practice of sentencing youth to life in prison without the opportunity to prove remorse and rehabilitation.
Contact: Allison Conyers