News & Politics  
comments_image Comments

Is It Cruel and Unusual to Sentence Teens to Die In Prison?

The Supreme Court is hearing two cases today that will affect the fate of more than 2,500 people sentenced to life without parole as teenagers.
 
 
Share
 
 
 
 

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt of a longer article on juvenile life without parole.

Sara Kruzan was 11 years old, a middle school student from Riverside, Calif., when she met 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 was like a father figure," she recalls.

Despite suffering severe bouts of depression as a child, until then, Kruzan was a good student, an "overachiever" in her words. But her mother was abusive and addicted to drugs; as for her father, she had only met him a couple of times. So, more and more, GG filled in.

"GG was there -- sometimes," she said. "He would talk to me and take me out and give me all these lavish gifts and do all these things for me …" Before long, he started talking to 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, he raped 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 earnings to him. "He was, like, married to all of us I guess," she says. " … Everything was his."

Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and World Special Coverage.