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Louisiana’s life without parole sentencing the nation’s highest — and some say that should change

Louisiana’s life without parole sentencing the nation’s highest — and some say that should change

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Hayward Jones is a mentor and pastor who has impacted the lives of hundreds of incarcerated people through his work. He is also one of nearly 5,000 people serving life without parole in Louisiana.

About 15 percent of the state’s prison population consists of people serving life without parole, which is the highest percentage among all 50 states. The large number of people serving such sentences are a result of sentencing laws enacted years ago, including mandatory minimums and a 1979 decision from state legislators to abolish parole for all life sentences.

In a recent article in The Advocate, Quinn Cozzens, staff attorney for the Abolitionist Law Center, said:

“Mandatory life without parole reflects a judgement that somebody is irredeemable, essentially social refuse — something to be kept out of sight and out of mind. Then we’re not allowing their communities to benefit from how these people have changed,” he said. “That’s something I don’t think can be overstated — the valuable work they can do, providing guidance to young people who might otherwise make the same mistakes.”

Read the full story on The Advocate here.