Virginia’s Move To End Capital Punishment Has A Major Flaw

Any day now, with Governor Ralph Northam’s signature, Virginia will eliminate the death penalty.

The news is cause for celebration. Since 1976, Virginia has executed more people than any other state except Texas. Now, Virginia joins a growing wave of states that have rejected this punishment and chosen to make our criminal justice system more humane, equitable and fair.

But the movement to end capital punishment also has a major flaw. It pushes for another form of in-prison death: life without the possibility of parole. Commonly referred to as LWOP, this sentence is frequently touted as a humane alternative to the death penalty. But LWOP is also deeply problematic and riddled with many of the exact same problems as the death penalty.

In the end, sentenced people are still condemned to die in prison, but LWOP sentences receive far less scrutiny by our justice system than death sentences.

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#FreeHer Campaign Wants Clemency For 100 Women In Biden’s First 100 Days

More than 200,000 women and girls are incarcerated in this country — 10,000 of them in federal prisons — and Danielle Metz used to be one of them.

Metz was married to an alleged drug kingpin and had two small children, 3 and 7 years old, when she was sentenced in 1993 for drug conspiracy and money laundering convictions. She had never been in legal trouble before, “not even a traffic ticket,” she says. “I was sentenced to three life sentences and when I came in the system they didn’t have parole or anything like that anymore. So I was just doing time day for day. The process was really hard. My family didn’t know what to do in the beginning. I had exhausted my appeals. Clemency was my only hope.”

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I Made A Serious Mistake As Governor Of Maryland. We Need Parole Reform.

It’s never easy to admit you made a mistake. Twenty-five years ago, I made a serious mistake.

At the start of my two terms as governor of Maryland, I announced that I would not grant parole to anyone with a life sentence, even though they were supposed to have a chance to earn it. Governors after me followed suit. I know now that my statement in 1995 that “life means life” was completely wrong.

It meant that people whose sentences promised a chance at parole were denied it for decades, regardless of how thoroughly they worked to redeem themselves and make amends to those they harmed.

I think about the people who, back in 1993, had earned work release and were productively preparing to return to their communities. Every one of them, no matter the personal effort they put in to rehabilitating themselves, was sent back to prison. The change was supposed to be temporary. But because of my statements, it became permanent. They lost everything and had to start over, often ending marriages and forcing some to say permanent goodbyes to children.

It was wrong for them to be imprisoned for decades longer because of me and subsequent governors. Some are still locked up today.

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Study: Two-Thirds Of Prisoners Serving Life Sentences Are People Of Color

More than two thirds of the roughly 203,000 prisoners serving life sentences in the United States are people of color, according to a new study citing official corrections data obtained last year from all states and the federal Bureau of Prisons.

The study, released by the Sentencing Project, found that roughly 20 percent of Black male prisoners are serving life sentences. About 11 percent of Black women serving prison sentences are also serving life, according to the study.

In states like Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, and Maryland, the study found that over two-thirds of those sentenced to life in prison are Black Americans, which account for 46 percent of those serving life sentences nationwide despite only accounting for around 13 percent of the U.S. population.

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Two Cop-Killers Freed By Illinois Parole Board After Decades In Prison

Foxx will no longer make recommendations to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on parole.

Foxx called the practice a “relic” of the past and said prosecutors are experts on the facts of the crimes but not on inmates’ conduct in prison — ending a decades-long practice by her office of offering opinions on parole requests.

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Over 200,000 People Are Serving Life In U.S. Prisons. These Are The Consequences.

More than 200,000 people are serving life sentences in U.S. prisons today, and most of them are locked in state correctional facilities. The vast majority of lifers are people of color, about 30% are people age 55 and older, and an increasing number are women.

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