- "Locked Up Forever"
This 2005 series in the Denver-based Rocky Mountain News grapples with two central questions about inmates serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles: "Are such unyielding sentences appropriate for those arguably too young to fully understand or control their actions? Or, are their crimes -- all murders -- so heinous that the risk is simply too great to ever give them a chance at freedom?" Included are a prison journal written by Nathan Ybanez and a profile of Jacob Ind.
- "Teen Crime, Adult Time"
In this four-part October 2006 series, The Denver Post examines the story of Colorado juveniles who have been "swept into prison under questionable circumstances by a combination of tough sentencing laws and Colorado district attorneys who wield some of the broadest powers in the country to prosecute juveniles." Among the articles are profiles of Trevor Jones and Nathan Ybanez.
- "Discarded Lives: Children Sentenced to Life Without Parole"
In this article from the Spring 2006 edition of Amnesty International Magazine, John Hubner examines how "two decades of mandatory sentencing laws and increasing prosecutorial discretion to try children as adults have created an entire population of young prisoners who will live the rest of their days behind bars."
- "Can Nate Ybanez Ever Be Forgiven?"
Paul Solotaroff profiles Nathan Ybanez and Erik Jensen for the November 2006 issue of Rolling Stone. "What makes a teenager kill his mother -- an act so dire it seems to controvert nature and thwart hundreds of thousands of years of genetic code?" Solotaroff asks. He attempts an answer by detailing allegations of abuse by both of Nate's parents and by delving deep into the Ybanez family history.
- "The Killer and Mrs. Johnson"
Alan Prendergast profiles Mary Ellen Johnson in the March 19, 1998 issue of Westword magazine. Johnson, a writer whose daughter was in Jacob Ind's class, served as a consultant for the defense. She later wrote a book blasting school officials, social services, prosecutors and even Jacob's own lawyers for failing to investigate the abuse she says Jacob suffered at home.
- "Proportionality and Punishment: Imposing Life Without Parole on Juveniles" (PDF file)
In an article written for the Wake Forest Law Review in 2001, Wayne A. Logan investigates the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Eighth Amendment that states a sentence cannot be "grossly disproportionate" to the crime and its possible application to today's juveniles being sentenced to life without parole. The article begins with a legal history of the rise in punitive sentences against juveniles and then examines how Supreme Court standards in judging proportionality have evolved over time.
JUVENILE JUSTICE AND VICTIMS' RIGHTS GROUPS
- The Pendulum Foundation
Founded by Erik Jensen's parents, this foundation seeks to educate the public about juveniles serving life without parole and to implement programs that could improve the lives of those inmates. The foundation's Web site includes information about kids serving life without parole in Colorado and in other states. In the FAQs section, the group makes the case for reforming the current system.
- The Coalition for Juvenile Justice
This national non-profit association works to support fairness and access to resources for all children interacting with the U.S. criminal justice system. Their major initiatives include detention reform and the creation of a nationwide network of state-based juvenile justice advocacy groups.
- The National Center for Victims of Crime
This resource and advocacy organization, founded in 1985, works with grassroots groups and criminal justice agencies to ensure that the voices of crime victims and their families are heard. In addition to providing direct services to victims, their work also includes advocating for legislation that enlarges and protects victims' rights and providing training to agencies and individuals who work with crime victims.
- National Organization for Victim Assistance
Established in 1975, the National Organization for Victim Assistance provides direct services to crime victims and their advocates. Their Web site includes a primer on what to do if you or someone you know becomes a crime victim, including a list of agencies and organization that can provide help.
- The Next Day Foundation
Erik Jensen founded this Web site to provide advice and guidance to abused teens. On it, he shares his story, provides links to resources for at-risk teens, and invites teens who want to talk about their situation to write him.
THE UNITED NATIONS ON CHILDREN'S RIGHTS
- Declaration of the Rights of the Child
This 1959 United Nations declaration, ratified by the United States, notes in its preamble that "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth."
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Adopted by the United Nations in 1966 and entered into force in 1976, this agreement states that the aim of nations' penitentiary systems "shall comprise treatment of prisoners, the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation," and that "juveniles offenders shall be segregated from adults and accorded treatment appropriate for their age and legal status. The United States did not ratify the covenant until 1992, and then only with the reservation that "the United States Reserves the right, in extreme cases, to treat juveniles as adults."
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
Among other provisions, this 1990 convention states that "neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by persons below 18 years of age." One hundred ninety-three nations are party to the agreement and 140 are signatories. Of the signatories, only Somalia and the United States have failed to ratify the agreement.