Xavier McElrath-Bey, a stalwart advocate for juvenile justice, testified before the Utah House of Representatives’ House Judiciary Committee to push for HB405, which would ban life without parole sentences for juveniles, the Deseret News reported on Feb. 28. The bill was advanced after a unanimous vote.
“The truth is I was not a monster. I was very visibly a child,” McElrath-Bey said. “I am not the same person I was when I was 13 years old.”
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Lowry Snow, told the committee that life without parole is essentially a death sentence. “It is a protracted death sentence, but nevertheless it is,” Lowry saud.
McElrath-Bey works for the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth. He pleaded guilty to the murder of another youth and served 13 years in prison. He is living proof of the change that young people can achieve.