The new Sentencing Project report, Life Goes On: The Historic Rise in Life Sentences in America, written by Ashley Nellis states that in 2012 there were 159,000 people serving life sentences in American prisons. 50,000 of them are serving life without parole (LWOP). Additionally, the report reveals some startling facts:
Nationally, one of every nine individuals in prison is serving a life sentence.
The population of prisoners serving life without parole (LWOP) has risen more sharply than those with the possibility of parole: there has been a 22.2% increase in LWOP since just 2008.
Approximately 10,000 lifers have been convicted of nonviolent offenses.
Nearly half of lifers are African American and 1 in 6 are Latino.
More than 10,000 life-sentenced inmates have been convicted of crimes that occurred before they turned 18 and nearly 1 in 4 of them were sentenced to LWOP.
More than 5,300 (3.4%) of the life-sentenced inmates are female.
Life Goes On offers the following recommendations as a means of rehabilitation, cutting costs, and advancing public safety:
eliminate life without parole
increase the use of executive clemency
prepare persons sentenced to life for release from prison
restore the role of parole in prisoner release.