Monday, October 10, 2005

Group Says Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Report on Juvenile Life Sentences Displays Callousness toward Crime Victims

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 /U.S. Newswire/ -- With a new joint report from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International slated for release Oct. 12, but already leaked to the New York Times, "Throw Away The Key," a national advocacy group that works to reduce crime rates, slammed the report as displaying indifference to crime victims and their families, and threatening the historic reductions in violent crime that have occurred in recent years. Key details of the report, concerning violent juvenile predators sentenced to life in prison without parole, were reported in the Times back on Oct. 3.


"These alleged champions of human rights are indifferent to the suffering of the working class victims of violent predators," said Michael Paranzino, president of Throw Away The Key, "victims who are disproportionately people of color. Let's be clear: if we heed the calls of these groups calling for softer penalties on teen gang members who kill innocent people, rape girls and women, and spread fear throughout urban communities, we are consigning people of color and working class whites to more violence, more victimization and more bloodshed."


Studies show that crime victims are disproportionately poorer and more often Black and Latino than the population at large. For example, almost half of all homicide victims (47 percent ) are African-American, even though African-Americans represent about 12 percent of the nation's population.


"Gang-bangers are not running around victimizing wealthy folks in gated communities," Paranzino continued. "They prey on working class Joes and Janes and their children. As the Washington Post reported in March, Harlem has enjoyed a wonderful renaissance since crime rates were slashed there. We must not go back to the days when the people of Harlem and other urban areas could not share in the American dream. This report and its dangerous prescriptions for more crime and more mayhem must be rejected."


Throw Away The Key is currently building a grass roots army of volunteers in all 50 states who will educate lawmakers about the link between tough sentencing of violent predators and the reductions in violent crime that result. Those interested in helping can write to volunteer@throwawaythekey.org or visit their web site at http://www.throwawaythekey.org .


The Amnesty/Human Rights Watch report is being issued, ironically, during this, the 21st annual Crime Prevention Month.

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