Friends and Family Days for Juvenile Lifers
Friends and Family
Days for Juvenile Lifers
SCI Cambridge Springs held a Friends
and Family Day on September 20, 2016, for juvenile lifers housed at the prison.
events have been held at other state prisons so that juvenile lifers may
reconnect with those closest to them in advance of the possibility they may be
reunited outside the walls.
lifers are individuals who were under 18 at the time they committed their
crimes and were sentenced to life without parole.
in 2012 when the United States Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama that it was unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile
offender to mandatory life without parole.
ruling, the DOC has been working with the Board of Probation and Parole and the
Office of Victim Advocate to help prepare the some 515 affected inmates and
crime victims’ family members for the possibility they may be resentenced and
taken by the DOC include:
Fast-tracking juvenile lifers into
prison educational and treatment programs.
obtain various necessary identification documents such as Social Security
a wide range of guidance for reentry.
and strengthening relationships with family members and friends.
and Family Days held at prisons provide not only a time for reconnection, but also
the opportunity to hear a variety of speakers provide details about a wide
range of topics juvenile lifers will need to know about upon their release from
It is the
responsibility of each juvenile lifer to work with their attorney to petition
the court for resentencing. A judge
could sentence the individual to time served and put them on probation. In other cases, the inmate could be resentenced
to additional years in prison up to and including life.
In all juvenile lifer cases, the DOC
is working to provide individuals with the tools necessary to adapt to their circumstances
no matter their outcome. Special
monitoring and assistance by psychological staff is being provided to help
individuals who once thought they would spend the rest of their lives in
of juvenile lifers from counties across the commonwealth now able to file court
petitions in their cases, it may take several years before the courts hear
these cases. Several individuals already
have been released from prison, either directly to the community or to
community corrections centers.
John Wetzel has said that he wants to set up these individuals for success and
has directed resources be made available immediately to assist them. Those who are released to parole supervision will
be housed for a period of time at a community corrections center so the DOC and
parole staff can help them transition back home.
spending several decades in prison, adjusting to “life on the outside,” with all
of the changes that have taken place in society and with technology, could
cause anxiety for juvenile lifers.
That’s why the DOC feels that a transition through a community
corrections center is so important to an individual’s success beyond the prison
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Family and Friends
Day Held at Benner Township
Township officials, during the week of September 6, 2016, held a Friends and Family Day for juvenile lifers
at the prison.
day was intended to give juvenile lifers a chance to meet with their family and
friends and outside organizations to discuss their possible re-entry. It also
gave them the opportunity to meet with friends and family of other juvenile
lifers so they could talk about and share their concerns for their loved
included guest speakers from the Wernersville Community Corrections Center and
the PA Prison Society. Inmates were also afforded the opportunity to speak and
express their gratitude towards their family.
and family and friends all gathered to show support for individuals who now
have the possibility of returning home after being told for years that they
would never see outside of the fence again.
To learn more
about the juvenile lifer issue, please visit the DOC’s website at www.cor.pa.gov.
Select General Information and then Juvenile Lifers Information.
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Community Support Day Held at Huntingdon
held a community support day for juvenile lifers on August 16, 2016, that
included family and friends of the inmates, as well as various agencies and
from the Department of Corrections’ central office, PA Board of Probation and
Parole, PA Prison Society, Department of Human Services, CareerLink, Office of
Vocational Rehab and SCI Huntingdon employees were stationed around the
introductions were complete, inmates and their guests had the opportunity to visit
each station and individually have their questions answered and concerns
received very positive feedback from all in attendance.
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