The Lives of Juvenile Lifers: Findings from a National Survey

Researchers sent a survey about their childhoods to 2,309 inmates serving life without parole sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles. The Sentencing Project received 1,579 responses, and the findings suggested high rates of exposure to violence:

  • Many of the inmates were first victims of domestic and sexual violence prior to committing crimes
  • 79 percent of the respondents witnessed violence at home
  • 50 percent experienced physical abuse
  • 77 percent of female inmates reported being sexually abused
  • 54 of the juvenile lifers witnessed acts of violence on at least a weekly basis

Based on the statistics, the report states that these juvenile lifers were exposed to violence, which in turn influenced their decisions to commit serious crimes. It continued to make the point that juveniles should be tried differently from adults because “violence is a learned behavior…without intervention, [children] are prone to repeat it.”

Click here to read the report.

-Sophia Chang

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1179 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at