People Serving Life Exceeds Entire Prison Population of 1970
Date:  02-21-2020

Report reveals state-by-state comparison of life-sentenced population in 2016 to prison population in 1970
From The Sentencing Project:

As states come to terms with the consequences of 40 years of prison expansion, sentencing reform efforts across the country have focused on reducing stays in prison or jail for those convicted of nonviolent drug and property crimes. At the same time, policymakers have largely neglected to address the staggering number of people serving life sentences, comprising one of seven people in prisons nationwide. International comparisons document the extreme nature of these developments. The United States now holds an estimated 40% of the world population serving life imprisonment and 83% of those serving life without the possibility of parole. The expansion of life imprisonment has been a key component of the development of mass incarceration. In this report, we present a closer look at the rise in life sentences amidst the overall incarceration expansion.

To place the growth of life imprisonment in perspective, the national lifer population of 206,000 now exceeds the size of the entire prison population in 1970, just prior to the prison population explosion of the following four decades. In 24 states, there are now more people serving life sentences than were in the entire prison population in 1970,1 and in an additional nine states, the life imprisonment total is within 100 people of the 1970 prison population.

Read the complete fact sheet here.