Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 25, 2014

Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for What?

The NYT Editorial Board highlights a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union on thousands of prisoners sentenced to life without parole for nonviolent crimes.

“In nearly 20 percent of cases, it was the person’s first offense… Four out of five prisoners were sentenced for drug crimes like possessing a crack pipe or acting as a go-between in a street drug sale. Most of the rest were sentenced for property crimes like trying to cash a stolen check or shoplifting. In more than 83 percent of the cases, the judge had no choice: federal or state law mandated a sentence of life without parole, usually under a mandatory-minimum or habitual offender statute.”

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