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February 21, 2020

"People Serving Life Exceeds Entire Prison Population of 1970"

The title of this post is the title of this new fact sheet released by The Sentencing Project’s Campaign to End Life Imprisonment.  Here is how the document (which is full of interesting images) get started:

As states come to terms with the consequences of 40 years of prison expansion, sentencing reform efforts across the country have focused on reducing stays in prison or jail for those convicted of nonviolent drug and property crimes.  At the same time, policymakers have largely neglected to address the staggering number of people serving life sentences, comprising one of seven people in prisons nationwide.  International comparisons document the extreme nature of these developments.  The United States now holds an estimated 40% of the world population serving life imprisonment and 83% of those serving life without the possibility of parole.  The expansion of life imprisonment has been a key component of the development of mass incarceration.  In this report, we present a closer look at the rise in life sentences amidst the overall incarceration expansion.

To place the growth of life imprisonment in perspective, the national lifer population of 206,000 now exceeds the size of the entire prison population in 1970, just prior to the prison population explosion of the following four decades.  In 24 states, there are now more people serving life sentences than were in the entire prison population in 1970, and in an additional nine states, the life imprisonment total is within 100 people of the 1970 prison population.  

February 21, 2020 at 12:16 AM | Permalink


Tragic statistic. Ugly picture of human nature. I'm reminded of a statement from the Talmud:

"Pray for the welfare of the government, for without it the people would swallow each other alive."

Posted by: anon1 | Feb 21, 2020 1:15:52 PM

According to the Feds, most all drug crimes are considered Violent Felonies.

Thats how they qualify towRds the Career Offender game, be it Acca or std variety.

As long as you have Senators & Congress that want to garner votes by impressing people with their tough on crime policies, the Fed Guidelines will stsy largely unchanged.

Still by drug qty, by association with others not by role. Multiple of what the feds call enhancements, need to find a different word.

Also they prosecute to the highest level charge, ensure a guideline sentence and everyone wants to avoid the trial penalty by virtue if the 3 level drop.

On top of this you have Ausa & judges that still think theyre a prosecutor, so defendents dont have a chance.. But when someone comes along and we have a president like we have, Stone gets his sentence dropped way down and Blag gets of jail 4-5 yrs early.

Additionally Stone most likely will get a total Pardon, so boys your barking up the wrong tree, nothing up there but politics as usual...

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Feb 21, 2020 4:19:54 PM

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