Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU, said abolishing life-without-parole sentences for juveniles would be a "natural extension" of the Roper decision. He also cited research that shows racial disparities where black juvenile offenders are more likely to be sentenced to life without parole than white juvenile offenders. The disparity is particularly pronounced in Pennsylvania, he said, where the ration of black to white juveniles sentenced to life without parole is is 20-to-1, the second highest in the nation. Hoover was one of several speakers who lamented the fact that the U.S. is alone in allowing juveniles to be sentenced to life in prison.
But homicide victims' survivors, such as Ralph Sherman, a defense attorney from Connecticut who prides himself on winning more pardons than any other attorney in Connecticut, were unmoved by those who complain that the U.S. is the only nation that allows juveniles to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
"This is no different from a child telling a parent 'all the other kids are doing it,'" Sherman said. "The issue is, 'What is right?' Not, 'What is everybody else doing.?'"