Photo of campus
News Archives

‘Juvenile lifers’ should be considered for release during pandemic – Op-Ed

Posted in: Faculty News, News

PsychLawLab-Philly - the Philadelphia Experience

Following a study conducted by CHSS faculty members Tarika Daftary-Kapur and Tina Zottoli that found a recidivism rate of just 1.14% among people who were sentenced to life without parole as juveniles (but subsequently resentenced and released) in Philadelphia, the researchers suggest that many of these individuals could be safely considered for early release during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team’s findings in the study, titled, “Resentencing of Juvenile Lifers: The Philadelphia Experience,” add to a growing body of scientific research that shows people age out of criminal behaviors, that lengthy sentences fail to deter crime, and that lengthy prison terms both divert funds from public health and safety initiatives, and are counterproductive to strengthening families and communities.

Daftary-Kapur and Zottoli note that just as rehabilitation is not the only justification for incarceration, low recidivism risk may not be, in and of itself, a justification to shorten the length of a sentence. “As we are in the throes of a national debate over releasing inmates to reduce the risk of COVID transmission, it is necessary for policymakers to be informed by the best science, which tells us individuals who committed crimes as juveniles and are now in their 40s and 50s pose a negligible risk to society.”

Read the full op-ed co-authored by Tarika Daftary-Kapur and Tina Zottoli in the Philadelphia Inquirer