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Another birthday behind bars for Jacqueline Montanez

Update 30th May:
Thank you to everyone who took the time to write all these wondeful birthday messages for Jacqueline. We are gathering all the messages and will pass them on to her. In the meantime, please continue to take action on Jacqueline’s case by writing a letter to the Governor of Illinois calling for her sentencing to be removed and granting her clemency. 

The 29th May is Jacqueline Montanez’s 37th birthday, and another day she will spend in prison. Jacqueline has spent more than half of her life in prison, after being sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for a crime committed when she was a child. Please join us in sending Jacqueline a message to show solidarity on her birthday and let her know that we are thinking of her. 

Leave your message for Jacqueline as a comment below

Jacqueline was just 15 years old when she and two other women shot and killed two members of a rival gang. Despite her age, Jacqueline was tried in an adult court where the only sentence available was life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. This meant that Jacqueline’s young age, difficult childhood and history of abuse could not be taken into consideration when deciding her sentence.

A sentence of life without the possibility of parole violates international law when it is imposed on a child. It means that a child’s potential for development, change and rehabilitation can never be taken into account. We all know that children develop and change as they grow up – but children given the sentence of life without the possibility of parole face spending the rest of their lives in prison, no matter who they become as adults.

After spending more than 20 years in prison, Jacqueline has grown into a very different person. She has completed almost all of the available education and vocational programmes; she trains service dogs for disabled people; tutors and mentors other inmates; and speaks out for troubled young people, especially those who have been abused and trapped in the gang lifestyle which she was born into.

However, Jacqueline’s sentence means she is destined to spend the rest of her life in prison, unless granted clemency.

As her 37th birthday approaches, we want to show Jacqueline that we are thinking of her and all those in the USA who face spending the rest of their lives behind bars for childhood actions. At the Amnesty UK AGM on 13th-14th April, we collected messages of support in a giant birthday card for Jacqueline.

Please join us and let Jacqueline know that people around the world are thinking of her on her birthday. You can stand in solidarity with Jacqueline and send her a message for her birthday by adding a comment below. Amnesty will make sure that your messages are sent to Jacqueline.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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Sending best wishes on your birthday.

A fair society ought to recognise that we all make mistakes, especially as teenagers, and we all need a second chance at some point.

Thinking of you

Clare x

clareemblem 9 years ago

Happy Birthday Jacqueline!
Be proud that you are doing more with your life than most people on the outside. You are a good person who has overcome adversity and giving others strength.
Sending you lots of Love and happiness xxxxxxxx

Juno's daughter 9 years ago

Happy birthday, Jacqueline!
The way you turned your life from an unfortunate mistake to a life of helping others is the true proof that mistakes done during childhood can't be punished as those done by adults and it is incredibly unfair that you have to spend your life behind bars when there are so many others not doing half as much for society as you do who can live their lives freely.
We all stand in support for you and hoping that one day you'll be able to enjoy life as you deserve it.
Andreia C.

ACortez 9 years ago

Happy birthday Jacqueline. You give strength and hope to others, hold tight to yours. Paula

paulawks 9 years ago

Happy Birthday xx

Lina.B 9 years ago

Hi Jacqueline,

Wishing you deep peace on your birthday and always,

Best wishes,
Deirdre O'Reilly

Deirdre O'Reilly 9 years ago

Happy Birthday Jacqueline,

I hope it is not long until you get your deserved release, congratulations on turning your life around


callum.fairbrother 9 years ago

This is rather a belated birthday wish. As Lewis Carroll would say, you have 364 unbirthdays so here's one of them. Here's hoping your next birthday will be celebrated outside those walls.

susan.iddesleigh 8 years ago

I knew the victims that were killed. My ex sister in law was also an eye witness to the murders. When the girls were first arrested and given their sentences, I was glad, for I could not believe that girls would do a disgusting, horrible, act like that.
However I know that Jackie's rights were violated. The arresting officers were crooked and I know others who were forced to make confessions and tortured by these crooked cops. I also believe that a sentence with no chance for parole should be unconstitutional for a 15 year old.
They showed the video of their arrest over and over and did not block her face for being a minor.
The police here are dirty and we have more fear of the cops than the gangs.
I also believe her story of being raped by her step dad. Sexual abuse is prevalent in this neighborhood for I had many girlfriends who would make confessions to me of what was being done to them. Sexual abuse was not dealt with, it was just swept under the rug back then. Why would a 12 yr old run away to the streets unless her home was worse than those streets? Jaqueline's story is all too common here in humboldt park.
Her actions all make sense. She had so much anger and the fact that her step dad was a King, that I am positive when she shot those boy/s, who were in his gang, that she was looking at her stepdad's face.
I believe in second chances, and I know people change for I am one of those people myself.
I believe this woman should get a 2nd chance to try and live a normal life, something that was never given to her. I have been following this story since it first happened. I am supporting you Jaqueline, and pray that this sentence changes for you. Enough of pain already, time to start living. Hugs to you dear.

bobbiedigital68 8 years ago