Sentencing Project

The Race To Incarcerate Continues

This National Journal article has me saddened that after literally decades of evidence that massive incarceration does not work – i.e., promote safety or advance the general welfare.  After noting that the Supreme Court just heard arguments on the “cruelty” under the 8th Amendmental of locking up juveniles for life in non-capital cases, our lust for prisons continues:

That is our criminal-justice system’s incarceration of a staggering 2.3 million people, about half of them for nonviolent crimes, including most of the 500,000 locked up for drug offenses.

Forty percent of these prisoners are black, 20 percent are Hispanic, and most are poor and uneducated. This has had a devastating impact on poor black families and neighborhoods, where it has become the norm for young men — many of them fathers — to spend time in prison and emerge bitter, unemployable, and unmarriageable. (These numbers come from studies cited by Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a reform group.)

America imprisons seven times as many people as it did in 1972, several times as many per capita as other Western nations, and many more than any other nation in the world.

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Life or Death

The Sentencing Project recently released an amazing study of state and federal prisoners showing that 1 in 11 prisoners are serving life.  The link to the article is here.  This is the abstract:

The Sentencing Project Releases National Report: 1 in 11 Prisoners Serving Life Sentences A new report released by The Sentencing Project finds a record 140,610 individuals are now serving life sentences in state and federal prisons, 6,807 of whom were juveniles at the time of the crime. In addition, 29% of persons serving a life sentence (41,095) have no possibility of parole, and 1,755 were juveniles at the time of the crime. No Exit: The Expanding Use of Life Sentences in America represents the first nationwide collection of life sentence data documenting race, ethnicity and gender. The report’s findings reveal overwhelming racial and ethnic disparities in the allocation of life sentences: 66% of all persons sentenced to life are non-white, and 77% of juveniles serving life sentences are non-white.