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Friday, 24 January 2014

A Living Death

More info at https://www.aclu.org/livingdeath

Ever wonder what could land you in prison for the rest of your life? For 3,278 people, it was a nonviolent offense like shoplifting a few cameras from Wal-Mart, stealing a $159 jacket, or serving as a middleman in the sale of $10 of marijuana.

People as young as 18 will spend the rest of their lives behind bars for crimes where no one was injured. Mothers and fathers will be separated from their kids forever. People convicted of their first offense will be permanently denied a second chance. Many young Black and low-income men and women will be locked up until they die. And taxpayers will spend billions to keep them behind bars. 

As the new ACLU report "A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses" reveals, the failed, and outdated approach of applying extreme sentences to minor property and drug crimes has reached absurd, tragic and costly heights. 

These people's problems -- poverty, mental illness, drug dependency -- were not solved by sending them to prison until they die. And most of the nonviolent crimes for which these prisoners are serving life without parole would be more appropriately addressed outside the criminal justice system altogether, by providing drug treatment and mental health resources.

More info at https://www.aclu.org/livingdeath

Take action at https://www.aclu.org/life-without-par...

- Can you imagine a mother without her oldest child? It'd be different if I knew my child was deceased. I could accept that. It would hurt, but that's a part of life. But to take him like they did, and to throw him away? Oh, no. - He's my son. - Now I don't have my little brother anymore. - That was my son. - Would my father not bein' there with me... - We never could understand how could they do something like that to a person that didn't do anything to anybody. - It's hard to go through with, but you got to be strong. You got to try to be strong. - Everything he did was to hurt himself, not others, and it went from one-year sentence to two-year sentence to natural life. - My will never get out for something so little. Natural life. - For stealing $150 jacket. And that $150 jacket got him life in prison. - Here in Louisiana, they used that habitual offender law, three strikes, you out, automatically get natural life. - It's like giving him a death sentence, because it's no life. No life for a man with his children or his parents or anybody else once they're in there. - Judge should have the discretion not to give the life sentence. I mean, that's extreme. You tell that to anybody, they'd say, "Oh, that's a little bit too much." That almost gets to be to the point that it's not what the forefathers envisioned. Even with the Constitution, that's extreme. That's cruel and unusual punishment to me. - He's a good person, my dad. I mean, he's always-- like I said, he's always been there for me, my sister, and brother. He's always done his best until he started abusing the drugs. - And a lot of times, with Patrick, with the drugs, it came down to not being able to find work. - Life sentence is no way to deal with a drug addiction. - My son wasn't a menace to society. - He would give his shirt off his back. - And bein' so tenderhearted in a place like that, it just doesn't fit. It's changed him that way, 'cause I notice he is getting a little colder. I find that he's not believing, and he's not keeping his faith as much. He's not--like, he's like, "I'm about ready to give up on this." - Oh, it's been hard. I go down there and see him. I can't hardly stand to leave him, but I know I have to go. It be hard. It be hard. - To tell him what I ate for Thanksgiving, and he couldn't eat it, you know, is hard. Little things like that. - And my birthday comin' up, and those are days I break. - But if this person could go back and be a productive citizen and not commit crimes again-- these nonviolent crimes-- then why are we keeping him here, spending all this money? Because maybe I've done my job, so he should have a parole hearing. - There's too many families that's suffering out here. - Give him a second chance. He's 54 years old now. - I'm looking for things to change. - Because these boys are just getting wasted away in these prisons for no reason. - They're gonna have to be some good days ahead somewhere. --

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