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.
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.
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