New Mexico Senate Bill 247, if passed, will give the right to parole to those sentenced to prison as minors. Those minors would be allowed parole after having served 15 years. Of course, their case would first be reviewed to ensure the person would not be likely to commit more crimes.

    Currently, minors can be sentenced to life sentences without parole. This means a minor sentenced to life would stay in jail for life, with no chance to reduce their sentence or prove they have reflected, one of the main reasons people go on parole.

    It is unfair for children to be sentenced to life without parole. Juveniles who commit crimes may not understand what is going on. The mentality of a child is not as developed as an adult’s.

    Being in prison for life could affect a child negatively. The child will not be able to develop at a normal rate, which could put them at a disadvantage in prison.

    Also, a child may not be able to understand the terms of their sentence. Most adults can’t even understand some of the words used.

    Another thing with minors is false confessions. A lot of times, minors can admit to things they did not do. We studied this in our class. A lot of interrogation techniques are made for criminals. But, children, teens, even some adults will break under the pressure from these techniques. Fairly often, minors will confess to things they never did.

    Because of this, cops will think they have the right person, even though they don’t. But the person who confessed may be too scared to say or do anything.

    Based on the color of someone’s skin, they may be more susceptible to being sentenced more harshly. Sometimes, minors who are people of color are sentenced more harshly than they should have been. I would imagine this to be way worse in New Mexico because a lot of people are people of color. This is a huge problem and has been going on for a long time.

    This is unfair to minors and even adults. Children are very important to our society and are very impressionable. Normally children learn what is right and wrong by being punished and given another chance. Our children build off of the examples we set for them. But if a child is not allowed to try again and has to be punished for a long time, then there is no point.

    Our children matter in our world. They are who will take over when we are gone. But if they are in jail for so long, without a chance to redeem themselves, then we won’t have a very bright future.

    So what I am saying is that SB 247 should be passed. These are just some of the many reasons why minors should be given another chance. Similarly to how you would punish your child at home and then give them another chance.

    The main difference is that these minors are getting harsher punishment. Of course, what these minors did was way worse, but fear can ruin a child’s entire life. And by giving them parole, they may be a better person than before. And be happy to be back out of jail.

    Dominic Valdez

    Española

    Dominic Valdez is a ninth grade student at McCurdy Charter School.

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