District of Columbia law currently allows people who received sentences longer than 15 years before turning 18 to have their sentence reviewed after a portion of their term has been served. A bill before the District Council would extend those sentence reviews to people convicted for an offense before turning 25, allowing a second lookMORE »
Some years ago, I visited El Manzano, a large prison in Concepción, Chile, and spent time talking with the warden, staff, and inmates. I asked the warden how much time murderers served in his prison. Chuckling, he assured me that he was tough on them, and proudly proclaimed that murderers often serve twenty-five to thirtyMORE »
The number of women serving life sentences is rising more quickly than it is for men, according to our recent publication, Women and Girls Serving Life Sentences. Nationwide one of every 15 women in prison — nearly 7,000 women — is serving a life or virtual life sentence. The circumstances that leadMORE »
The Sentencing Project’s Marc Mauer joined Talk Nation Radio with David Swanson to discuss the increase and impact of life sentences in the United States.MORE »
Two hundred thousand incarcerated people in the United States—one of every seven citizens—are serving a life sentence with or without parole, or a “virtual” life sentence of 50 years or more, according to a new book by Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis, featuring contributory lifer portraits by Kerry Myers, that was released in December. The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences explores this unforgiving aspect of modern criminal justice and utilizes decades of research to answer in layman’s terms frequently-asked questions.MORE »
In 1997, Massachusetts lawmakers ended the death penalty but put in place life without parole (LWOP). Years later, several studies reveal that the expansion of LWOP sentences is counterproductive to public safety. Now a new bill in Massachusetts aims to provide all incarcerated people with a chance at parole.MORE »
After the federal First Step Act passed in 2018, a natural question for many in the reform community was “what comes next?” The Meaning of Life offers an answer: ending life sentences. Co-authored by Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis, with supplemental material by Kerry Myers, The Meaning of Life is a ferociously persuasive case against the use of life sentences.MORE »
In an effort to scale back mass incarceration and the war on drugs, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar outlined a plan to set up a new system of clemency that would release thousands of people in federal prison with excessively long sentences, reports Vox.MORE »
Working to abolish life prison terms will take a shift in public will. State groups in California and New York are anchoring grassroots efforts to limit extreme sentences in support of scaling back mass incarceration.MORE »
On April 11, the state of Louisiana denied Henry Montgomery’s request for parole for the second time. He is 72 years old, and has been incarcerated since 1963. In 1969, he was sentenced to a term of life without the possibility of parole.MORE »
At least 16 states and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation authorizing retroactive sentencing remedies for persons sentenced to life imprisonment.MORE »
The longest prison sentence without parole in New Zealand’s history was 30 years, but following the mass shooting at mosques in Christchurch, the country may impose a life without parole (LWOP) sentence for the first time in its history, reports Vox’s German Lopez.MORE »
In a guest post for the Washington Post, Daniel S. Nagin, professor of public policy and statistics at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, highlighted The Sentencing Project’s Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis’s “bold recommendation” of abolishing life sentences in order to address mass incarceration:MORE »
On October 11, 2018, the Washington State Supreme Court struck down the state’s use of the death penalty due to overwhelming evidence of racial bias. Key players, including the state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee, praised this move as a distinction of humaneness. Ferguson went so far as to assure us, “WeMORE »
America puts more people in jail and prison than any other country in the world. Although the country has managed to slightly reduce its prison population in recent years, mass incarceration remains a fact of the US criminal justice system.
It’s time for a radical idea that could really begin to reverse mass incarceration:MORE »
Pennsylvania is poised for much-needed criminal justice reform, but can we abolish life without parole?
When Trina Garnett was 14 years old when she killed two people in Chester, Pennsylvania. Garnett had been abused and neglected for most of her life, suffered a serious intellectual disability and was homeless at the time of her offense. Despite these challenges, the girl wasMORE »
The Sentencing Project’s executive director Marc Mauer and senior research analyst Ashley Nellis, co-authors of The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences (The New Press, 2018), argue against any sentence longer than 20 years on WNYC’s the Brian Lehrer Show.
Cyntoia Brown, a Tennessee woman serving a life sentence, has been granted clemency and will be coming home this summer after 15 years in prison. Cyntoia was a victim of child sex trafficking and earned national attention after her case was acknowledged by Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, and other Hollywood celebrities.MORE »
The Sentencing Project’s Marc Mauer was recently featured on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to discuss his new book with Ashley Nellis, The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences. Marc and Trevor discussed the relationship between mass incarceration and life sentences, and why life sentences are actually counterproductive to public safety.MORE »