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February 22, 2010

Prisoners writing to death penalty abolitionists urging end to LWOP advocacy

This new press release provides further evidence that the pro-life-imprisonment advocacy by the anti-DP crowd is not appreciated by everyone.  This release is headlined "The Other Death Penalty Project Announces Letter-Writing Campaign to Anti-Death Penalty Groups", and here excerpts:

Today, thousands of prisoners around the country will be mailing letters to numerous death penalty abolitionist groups asking them to stop advocating for life without the possibility of parole as a supposedly humane alternative to lethal injection.

The Other Death Penalty Project, a group comprised solely of prisoners serving life without possibility of parole -- the other death penalty -- categorically rejects this hypocritical position taken by too many death penalty abolitionists.  Death at the hands of the state, whether by lethal injection or lethal imprisonment, is the death penalty.

The Other Death Penalty Project, similarly, rejects the proposition that life without the possibility of parole is a necessary first step toward ultimate abolition of the death penalty.  The distinction is one of method, not kind. Instead of moving to the elimination of death sentences, this tactic of trading slow executions for quick executions has resulted in an explosion of men and women sentenced to the slower method....

The Other Death Penalty Project plans to call these anti-death penalty groups out to a public accounting by speaking for the close to 40,000 men and women sentenced to face "worse than death," in the words of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.  These prisoners live on the much bigger, much less well-publicized, death rows all around this country.

The home page and additional materials related to The Other Death Penalty Project can be found at this link.

February 22, 2010 at 08:37 AM | Permalink

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Comments

As a practical matter, a death-sentenced person's case is reviewed with exceedingly fine resolution. A non-death sentenced person doesn't garner much in-depth investigation or analysis. As a result, I would posit that death sentenced persons have a higher rate of reversal than non-death sentenced persons. Ending LWOP would have the unintended consequences of increasing "rent seeking" opportunities for lawyers and increased reversals of convictions.

Posted by: k | Feb 22, 2010 8:59:47 AM

How many states still have the possibility of parole for those convicted of first-degree murder?

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Feb 22, 2010 9:13:02 AM

Are there still any states that provide for life *with* parole and the death penalty, but not life *without* parole?

Posted by: . | Feb 22, 2010 9:23:51 AM

West Virginia has parole for those convicted of first degree murder. This is a non-death state; the jury recommends "life with mercy", which makes the person eligible for parole after 15 years or "life without mercy" which means life without possibility of parole.

Posted by: mln | Feb 22, 2010 10:15:18 AM

I believe Texas has parole for first-degree murder, as well. But I think there are very few states that do.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Feb 22, 2010 10:47:08 AM

Wow. I don't understand this whole slow death vs fast death distinction at all. All of us are on the slow death track, without exception. I have a brother who got the death penality when he was 20. Auto accident.

Nor have I ever accepted the non-sense spouted by my beloved gov. A fate worse than death. Who can know or say what death is. How can you compare life to that which is undefined.

Posted by: Daniel | Feb 22, 2010 11:31:45 AM

Partisans on both side of this debate are guilty of some over-blown purple prose.

Having said that, although none of us have experienced death, none of us have experienced being locked in a cage and being told that, no matter what you do, you cannot leave it alive. I could well imagine that some of those folks would conclude that it is better to just get it over with. Obviously it is impossible to know for sure if they are right, since those who have died cannot come back and tell us what it was like.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Feb 22, 2010 1:31:01 PM

To .
According to the DPIC, every state but Alaska allows for Life Without Parole for either their most serious classification of murder such as 1st Degree Murder, Capital Murder, Aggravated Murder and Capital Felony.
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/life-without-parole

Posted by: MikeinCT | Feb 22, 2010 7:41:50 PM

As I put it in a January 29 blog on Crime and Consequences:

[T]he promise that killers will permanently be taken off the street by LWOP, just as much as they would be by the death penalty, cannot be relied upon. And this is not merely because some future legislature might act to restore parole across the board. It's because many of those those pushing LWOP right now as a death penalty alternative don't really mean it. It is, like the movement for a death penalty "moratorium" -- you know, the "moratorium" with no ending date -- a bait-and-switch.

A few years ago, Judge Ken Starr and I debated two distinguished abolitionists, Sam Millsap and Byron Stevenson, at the National Press Club, http://pewforum.org/events/?EventID=122. Toward the end of the debate, I asked my opponents whether they would pledge, if LWOP were to replace the death penalty, that they would not seek to have LWOP sentences modified. Sam took the pledge. Byron, however, had a distinctly different approach:


"My view is that punishment should be appropriate. I think the death penalty is always inappropriate. There are lots of clients whom I've represented who I know will never be prepared to reenter society. I don't hide that fact... But there are some other clients who I think can, and I think that question should be based on information in a particular case. If we think the death penalty is illegitimate we should get rid of it. And if there are people who are concerned about what happens after, we should deal with that. It's just the promise of what more fairness might people be seeking, and we're going to seek all the fairness that can be sought."

Translation: It's not just the future legislature we need to worry about. It's the lawsuit to be filed two seconds after the death penalty abolition bill is signed -- the lawsuit claiming that LWOP is merely a slow motion death penalty; that it turns its back on "all the fairness that can be sought;" and that therefore is just as unacceptable as capital punishment and should share its fate.


Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 23, 2010 12:47:37 AM

The Supremacy is not that smart. She is merely a messenger from the real world to this Twilight Zone Lawyer World. The Supremacy proposed giving defendants a choice to see which was cruler to them, the death penalty or LWOP. This letter to abolitionists validates her point.

About 90% of us will go slowly, roughly, with daily agonies for a long time, with humiliations all day. Now imagine undergoing those torments of the final days in a prison cell.

The other conclusion is that abolitionists see the defendants as a commodity in furtherance of their left wing agendas. They do not care about suffering as claimed.

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