• We oppose the death penalty in all cases as inherently cruel. We also work to change criminal sentences that are disproportionately severe relative to the crime and the culpability of the individual offender, including the sentencing of juvenile offenders to life without the possibility of parole and long sentences set by mandatory sentencing laws for low level drug offenses. These sentences violate human rights laws binding on the United States that prohibit cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and require that juvenile offenders be treated in accordance with their age and capacity for rehabilitation. We also oppose the imposition of arbitrary and disproportionate restrictions in lieu of, or in addition to, criminal punishment, such as restrictions on access to public housing, the right to vote, or choice of residence.

  • A photograph of Ethan A. (pseudonym) held by his mother, showing her son at age 11, four months before he was arrested for committing a sex offense and placed on the sex offender registry in Texas.
    Harsh public registration laws often punish youth sex offenders for life and do little to protect public safety, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. A web of federal and state laws apply to people under 18 who have committed any of a wide range of sex offenses, from the very serious, like rape, to the relatively innocuous, such as public nudity.


Excessive Punishment and Restrictions