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A Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses

A Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses

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Published by LeakSourceInfo
11/13/2013

http://leaksource.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/3200-people-serving-life-sentences-in-us-for-nonviolent-offenses-aclu-study/
11/13/2013

http://leaksource.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/3200-people-serving-life-sentences-in-us-for-nonviolent-offenses-aclu-study/

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Published by: LeakSourceInfo on Nov 15, 2013
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November 2013
A LIVING DEATH
Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses
 
Cover images:
A life sentence in Louisiana means life without the possibility of parole. Because of harsh sentencing laws, about 95 percent of the 5,225 people imprisoned at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola will die there. Louisiana is the state with the highest number of prisoners serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses in the United States, with 429 such prisoners, 91 percent of whom are Black according to the ACLU’s estimates.(Top) Mary Bloomer, a prison security guard, watches as prisoners form a line to travel to their prison jobs, which include farm labor. Angola is a massive maximum security plantation prison, occupying flat delta land equal to the size of Manhattan.
(Middle) George Alexander’s socks are marked with his nickname “Ghost.” Alexander was a patient in the Angola hospice program who later succumbed to brain and lung cancers. His nickname is short for “Casper, the Friendly Ghost.”
(Bottom) Hospice volunteers roll George Alexander’s coffin from the prison hospital before burial in the prison’s cemetery.Photo credit: Lori Waselchuk, “Grace Before Dying”
Back cover image:
The cemetery at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
 
American Civil Liberties Union125 Broad StreetNew York, NY 10004www.aclu.org 
© 2013 ACLU Foundation
A Living Death
Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses
 
A Living Death:
Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Executive Summary
....................................................................................................................................................................
4
II. Recommendations
 ....................................................................................................................................................................
14
III. Methodology
 ................................................................................................................................................................................
16
A. DEFINING “LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE”
 .............................................................................................................................
17
B. DEFINING “NONVIOLENT”
 ...............................................................................................................................................
18
IV. Findings: The Use of Life without Parole for Nonviolent Crimes
 .........................................................................
20
A. RISE IN LIFE-WITHOUT-PAROLE SENTENCES
 ............................................................................................................
20
B. NONVIOLENT CRIMES THAT RESULT IN LIFE-WITHOUT-PAROLE SENTENCES
 ....................................................
21
C. WHO IS SERVING LWOP FOR NONVIOLENT CRIMES: THE NUMBERS
 ....................................................................
22
D. RACIAL DISPARITY IN LIFE-WITHOUT-PAROLE SENTENCING
 ..................................................................................
29
V. How We Got Here: Skyrocketing Extreme Sentences and Mass Incarceration
 ..............................................
32
A. THE “WAR ON DRUGS” AND MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCING LAWS
 ............................................................
33
B. THREE-STRIKES AND OTHER HABITUAL OFFENDER LAWS
 .....................................................................................
35
C. CHANGES TO PAROLE LAWS AND OTHER LIMITATIONS ON RELEASE
 ....................................................................
36
VI. Case Studies: 110 Offenders Sentenced to Die in Prison for Nonviolent Crimes
 ..........................................
38
A. FIRST-TIME NONVIOLENT OFFENDERS
 ........................................................................................................................
39
B. NONVIOLENT TEENAGE OFFENDERS
 ............................................................................................................................
67
C. TYING JUDGES’ HANDS: MANDATORY LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
 ................................................................................
74
D. LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR NONVIOLENT OFFENSES UNDER HABITUAL OFFENDER LAWS
 ...........................
98
i. State Habitual Offenders
 .......................................................................................................................................
101
ii. Federal Habitual Offenders
 ..................................................................................................................................
150
E. LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR MARIJUANA
 ..................................................................................................................
156
F. LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE DUE TO CRACK/POWDER COCAINE SENTENCING DISPARITY
 .....................................
168
G. AGING AND ELDERLY NONVIOLENT PRISONERS
 ......................................................................................................
174
H. TERMINALLY ILL NONVIOLENT PRISONERS
 ..............................................................................................................
178
VII. The Reality of Serving Life without Parole
 ...................................................................................................................
182
A. WHAT IT MEANS TO BE SENTENCED TO LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
 ..........................................................................
183
i. Hopelessness, Depression, and Suicidal Thoughts and Attempts
 ..................................................................
184
ii. Isolation from Family
 .............................................................................................................................................
186
B. PRISON CONDITIONS
 .....................................................................................................................................................
187
i. Violence
 ...................................................................................................................................................................
187
ii. Solitary Confinement
 .............................................................................................................................................
188
iii. Restricted Access to Drug Treatment, Vocational, and Educational Programs
 ............................................
189
C. LIMITED JUDICIAL REVIEW OF DEATH-IN-PRISON SENTENCES
 ...........................................................................
190
D. VIRTUALLY NO CHANCE OF CLEMENCY OR COMPASSIONATE RELEASE
 .............................................................
192
VIII. The Financial Cost of Sentencing Nonviolent Offenders to Life without Parole
 ........................................
194
A. METHODOLOGY
 ................................................................................................................................................................
195
B. FISCAL COST-SAVINGS ESTIMATES
 .............................................................................................................................
198
IX. Comparative International Practice and Fundamental Rights to Humane Treatment, Proportionate Sentence, and Rehabilitation
 ...............................................................................................................
200
A. OUT OF STEP WITH THE WORLD
 ..................................................................................................................................
200
B. DISPROPORTIONATE SENTENCES VIOLATE INTERNATIONAL LAW
 .......................................................................
203
C. RIGHT TO REHABILITATION UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW
 .....................................................................................
205
D. U.S. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
 ..........................................................................................................................................
206
X. Acknowledgments
 ..................................................................................................................................................................
209

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