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The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences

By Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis
Featuring six portraits of lifers by formerly incarcerated author Kerry Myers
“A riveting, passionate case against lifetime incarceration and a plea for criminal justice reform.”
—Kirkus Reviews
“[A] trenchant and urgent book.” —Publishers Weekly

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No End In Sight

America’s Enduring Reliance on Life Imprisonment

Before America’s era of mass incarceration took hold in the early 1970s, the number of individuals in prison was less than 200,000. Today, it’s 1.4 million; and more than 200,000 people are serving life sentences – one out of every seven in prison. More people are sentenced to life in prison in America than there were people in prison serving any sentence in 1970.

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A Second Look at Injustice

A Second Look at Injustice

Second look reforms enable reconsideration of sentences now recognized as unjust and ineffective, allowing better investments to promote public safety. Twenty-five states have recently introduced such legislation to review long sentences and over 60 elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders have called for second look legislation, with several prosecutors’ offices having launched sentence review units.

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Delaying a Second Chance

The Declining Prospects for Parole on Life Sentences

Over the past three decades many legislatures, governors, and parole boards have toughened lifer parole policies and practices—effectively increasing prison terms for the more than 110,000 individuals serving parole-eligible life sentences.

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