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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Message from Efrén Supporting Call to Action to Abolish Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP) Sentences

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly,
affects all indirectly." —Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Friends,

I am writing asking you to support a call to action urging people to contact your state legislators and asking them to support the passage of Senate Bills 173-176 which seek to abolish juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences in Michigan.

I am currently constructing a letter to President Obama's transition team and administration encouraging them to ratify the Convention On the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC expressly prohibits the imposition of JLWOP sentences, however, the U.S. has not ratified the treaty.

The CRC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 and instituted as international law in 1990. The U.S. signed the treaty with reservations, but is the only remaining country in the world that has not ratified it besides Somalia. Somalia, however, does not have a functioning government.

A couple months ago when asked about the CRC on the campaign trail, President Obama stated, "It is embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land." He continued, "I will review this and other treaties and ensure that the United States resumes its global leadership in human rights." You can view his response at

I believe President Obama's recent vow to reclaim our "moral high ground" in the world, his commitment to ensure that "transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones" of his administration, and his signing of the Executive Order banning torture to protect the human rights of foreigners abroad, signal that he will also ensure the protection of children's rights at home.

President Obama signed the Executive Order to ensure that the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is adhered to. This same treaty contains provisions which offer protections of juveniles as well. JLWOP sentences constitute a violation of this treaty along with several others, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention On the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination.

If President Obama ratifies the CRC it would become a very strong instrument for citizens to utilize to encourage legislators across the nation to abolish JLWOP sentences.

I will also be urging the Obama administration to ask members of Congress to pass H.R. 4300, a bill introduced by U.S. Representative Robert Scott (D-VA) and co-sponsored by U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) that seeks to abolish JLWOP sentences nationwide. H.R. 4300 is currently pending in the U.S. House of Representatives and can be viewed at

We continue to make progress each day. While it has certainly been a challenging time waiting to hear the Parole Board's recommendation the past 55 days since my public hearing, it has also been a time of prayer, deep reflection, and strengthening of my faith.

I continue to remain strong and focused, working each day to reach out to people who can help us make a difference in the world. Not a day expires that I do not do something to advance our campaign to restore my freedom and abolish the imposition of JLWOP sentences. Thank you for your continued support, and thank you for helping me never lose sight of our enduring spirit to seek justice.

In Solidarity,


Click on the following link to view a TIME Committee blog post that contains additional information about pending Senate Bills 173-176, including links to download the bills:

Click on the following link to view information about how to contact your legislators to urge them to support passage of Senate Bills 173-176: