Bryan Stevenson is unwavering in that vision and in lifting his voice of great moral clarity at the forefront of the struggle. Every new hard-earned and overdue victory should remind us all that we must keep moving towards greater justice for all.
Like the Court's decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana, President Obama's action sends a strong message about the vulnerability of youth and our obligation as a society to safeguard children, even when they commit crimes.
To all the governors out there, follow the president's lead. Start robustly using your executive clemency powers to reduce your state's prison population. Release those non-violent offenders who don't need to be serving their entire natural lives in prison.
For a prosecutor with a heavy caseload who already works long hours, it is asking a lot to expect her to keep a critical eye on the workings of the criminal justice system, to never accept the status quo, and to seek to improve the system whenever an inadequacy is perceived.
Unfortunately, rehabilitation (the adult word for "learning a lesson") is often not at the heart of criminal justice reform. In fact, the harshness of a punishment is frequently not determined by the possibility of recidivism, but rather by public opinion.
In 1994, I was sentenced to juvenile life without parole for a crime I did not commit. Had my life not changed last year, I would have died there. I don't want my country to tell any child that he or she is irredeemable.
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court took a new step in protecting juvenile offenders. In Miller v. Alabama it ruled that states could not mandate life without the possibility of parole sentences for youth involved in homicide cases.