This is William A. Noguera calling from San Quentin’s Death Row. And this piece is “Discrimination and Youth Offendership.”
Discrimination is something we should all strive to eliminate. However, there is a group of teenagers, both boys and girls, they are white, black, brown, Asian, they come from all cultures and religious groups, and they form a subgroup that are being discriminated against.
They are youth offenders who were teens when they committed the crimes they were sent to prison for. And although laws have been enacted to protect those whose brain development is at such an early stage, these teens were excluded from these laws and from being treated fairly. These teens, some who were 18, days from being juveniles, were sentenced to life without possibility of parole and death.
Surely these teens were repeat offenders. The worst of the worst. You would think, hardly. What these teens have in common is they’re all poor. They were represented by public defenders who were overworked, underpaid, and could never defend a child who faced a mountain.
Today thousands of these teens continue to face this discrimination when the same laws that exclude them help other youth offenders all the way to the age of 25. How is this fair? How does a boy of 18 with no priors get the same as a serial killer who’s killed 40 people. Please contact your legislators and ask them to right this wrong.
An 18 year old is about to face a mountain and needs your help. I am William Noguera, and I am one of many 18 year olds who have faced that mountain and lost.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.