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Free Human Trafficking Victim

Free Human Trafficking Victim

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Published by Lee Gaylord
Sara was a 16 year old girl forced into prostitution. She killed her pimp and was sentenced to life without parole.
Sara was a 16 year old girl forced into prostitution. She killed her pimp and was sentenced to life without parole.

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Published by: Lee Gaylord on Dec 04, 2009
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05/24/2012

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Free Human Trafficking Victim Sara Kruzan
Free Sara Kruzan
There are approximately 225 juveniles in Californiaserving a life without parole sentence. California has theworst racial disparity rate in the nation for sentencing juveniles to life without parole. Black youth are giventhis sentence at 22 times the rate of white youth.A number of California cases have recently beenhighlighted in the media due to the background of the juveniles who received the sentences, and thecircumstances surrounding their crimes. One such caseinvolves Sara Kruzan, now 31. She was raised inRiverside by her abusive, drug-addicted mother. Sara mether father only three times in her life because he was in prison.Since the age of 9, Sara suffered from severe depression for which she was hospitalizedseveral times. At the age of 11, she met a 31-year-old man named G.G. who molestedher and began grooming her to become a prostitute. At age 13, she began working as achild prostitute for G.G. and was repeatedly molested by him. At age 16, Sara wasconvicted of killing him. She was sentenced to prison for the rest of her life despite her  background and a finding by the California Youth Authority that she was amendable totreatment offered in the juvenile system.“Life without parole means absolutely no opportunity for release,” said Senator Yee. (of California) “It also means minors are often left without access to programs andrehabilitative services while in prison. This sentence was created for the worst of criminals that have no possibility of reform and it is not a humane way to handlechildren. While the crimes they committed caused undeniable suffering, these youthoffenders are not the worst of the worst.”“As a society we’ve learned a lot since the time we started using life without parole for children,” said Elizabeth Calvin, a children’s rights advocate with Human Rights Watch.“We now know that this sentence provides no deterrent effect. While children whocommit serious crimes should be held accountable, public safety can be protected withoutsubjecting youth to the harshest prison sentence possible.”*Written by Michelle QuannSee Sara’s story on youtubehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2Aa4uMIm8cFromhttp://www.freesarakruzan.org/
 
16-Year Old Got Life Without Parole for Killing Her Abusive Pimp-- Should Teens Be Condemned to Die in Jail? 
 By Liliana Segura, AlterNet  Posted on October 31, 2009, Printed on December 3, 2009http://www.alternet.org/story/143635/ 
This article is the first in a two-part series about juveniles and harsh sentencing.
Sara Kruzan was 11 years old, a middle school student from Riverside, Calif., when shemet a man -- he called himself GG -- who was almost three times her age. GG took her under his wing; he would buy her gifts, take her and her friends rollerskating. "He waslike a father figure,"she recalls.Despite suffering severe bouts of depression as a child, until then, Kruzan was a goodstudent, an "overachiever" in her words. But her mother was abusive and addicted todrugs; as for her father, she had only met him a couple of times. So, more and more, GGfilled in."GG was there -- sometimes," she said. "He would talk to me and take me out and giveme all these lavish gifts and do all these things for me …" Before long, he started talkingto her about sex, giving her his expert advice on what men were really like and telling her that she didn't "need to give it up for free."Unbeknownst to her, GG was grooming Kruzan to be a prostitute. When she was 13, heraped her. "He uses his manhood to hurt," Kruzan recalls, "Like, break you in. I guess."Kruzan worked for GG as a prostitute for three years. The hours were 6 p.m. until 5:30 or 6 in the morning. She and "the other girls" would come back and hand over their earningsto him. "He was, like, married to all of us I guess," she says. " … Everything was his."After years of prostitution and sexual abuse, when she was 16, Kruzan snapped: Shekilled GG, was arrested and convicted of first-degree murder. Despite attempts by her lawyer to have her sentenced as a juvenile, the judge described her crime as "wellthought-out" and sentenced her to life without parole."My judge told me that I lacked moral scruples," she recalls, a term she did not know themeaning of.But the meaning of her sentence was all too clear. Life without parole, she says, "meansI'm gonna die here."
 
'These Children Were Literally Lost In Adult Prison'
A few years ago, Sara Kruzan's story grabbed the attention of California StateSen.Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who introduced legislation to abolish the sentence of lifewithout the possibility of parole for youth offenders. The bill was no get-out-of-jail pass;under his legislation, a juvenile who committed a felony before the age of 18 would servea minimum of 25 years before being eligible to go before a parole board (also not a get-out-of-jail pass).Yee is also a child psychologist. When it comes to judging the actions of teenagers versusthose of adults, he argues, "the neuroscience is clear; brain maturation continues wellthrough adolescence, and thus impulse control, planning and critical-thinking skills arestill not yet fully developed."Condemning teenagers to die in jail, then, means curtailing the lives of potentially productive members of society. "Children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation thanadults," Yee said. Anyway, didn't California's prison system rename itself the CaliforniaDepartment of Corrections
and Rehabilitation
?In politics, however, punitive almost always wins out -- particularly in California, where"three strikes" laws have led to a prison crisis unparalleled anywhere else in the country.Yee's bill met intense political resistance and eventually died.This past February, he introduced a new, watered-down bill that, instead of eliminatinglife without parole for juveniles would provide a review of a youth offender's sentenceafter 10 years.In 2005, Human Rights Watch published an unprecedented study,"The Rest of Their Lives: Life without Parole for Child Offenders in the United States,"which found "atleast 2,225 people incarcerated in the United States who have been sentenced to spendthe rest of their lives in prison for crimes they committed as children." Today, the number is even higher: 2,574.It's only recently that the plight of juveniles serving life in adult prisons came across thenational radar. Alison Parker, deputy director of the U.S. Program of Human RightsWatch told
 AlterNet 
, "these children were literally lost in adult prison. Nobody paidattention to the fact that they were under 18 at the time of their offense."But this could soon change. Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments ina pair of cases --
Sullivan v. Florida
and
Graham v. Florida
-- that will decide whether life sentences for juveniles violate the Constitution's ban on cruel-and-unusual punishment.These cases follow the Court's landmark ruling in
 Roper v. Simmons
four years ago,which struck down the death penalty for juvenile defendants on Eighth Amendmentgrounds. Echoing the opinion of Yee, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority

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