The ACLU has a report on life sentences in prison without parole. Many such sentences are for non-violent crimes.
The number of people sentenced to life without parole
has quadrupled nationwide in the past 20 years, even
while violent crime has been declining during that
period. Not only has the use of life-without-parole sentences
exploded, but the punishment is available for a broader
range of offenses, and those sentenced to LWOP include
people convicted of nonviolent crimes, including low-level
According to data collected and analyzed
by the ACLU, 3,278 prisoners are serving LWOP for drug,
property, and other nonviolent crimes in the United States
as of 2012. Our data on the people serving LWOP shows
marked geographic and socioeconomic patterns, and reveals
stark racial disparity in life-without-parole sentencing for
Let me guess – lots more white people? No?
Life without parole used to be extremely rare in the US, until the Supreme Court banned the death penalty in 1972. Since then the numbers have exploded.
LWOP has not only expanded to nearly every state but also
is an available sentence for many more crimes. In 37 states
and in the federal system, a life-without-parole sentence is
available for non-homicide offenses, including convictions
for selling drugs, burglary, robbery, carjacking, and battery.
In 29 states, an LWOP sentence is mandatory upon conviction
of particular crimes, thus denying judges any discretion to
consider the circumstances of the crime or the defendant.
(There are reference notes in the original.)
The net result of this expansion is that LWOP is now used
at historically high levels to punish people who at one
time would have received much more lenient sentences.
In addition, people sentenced to LWOP are robbed of the
opportunity for release, which is rooted in the belief that
people have the capacity for growth and rehabilitation and
the ability to successfully reintegrate into society. Indeed,
studies show that lifers who are released are very unlikely
to commit new crimes. A sentence to life without parole,
however, means the prisoner has no prospect of release
in his or her lifetime, regardless of his or her efforts at
rehabilitation: virtually every person sentenced to LWOP dies
What can possibly be the point of that? Just brutality for the sake of brutality?
Honestly on so many criteria the US cannot be considered an advanced developed democracy. In many ways we’re anti-development and hostile to advancing.