Source: Meredith Clark / theGrio
Thousands of people convicted of non-violent crimes are serving life sentences, according to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union.
There are currently 3,278 people who have been sentenced to life without parole for crimes as small as selling less than $10 worth of marijuana and shoplifting. The report also found that it will cost nearly $2 billion to keep those inmates incarcerated until their deaths. At a time when state and local governments are desperately trying to reduce their populations of non-violent offenders in order to reduce strain on overcrowded facilities and cut spending, these prisoners are a reminder of the much harsher “tough on crime” era of the 1980s and 1990s.
As is the case throughout the country and within the federal prison system – the home of two-thirds of those prisoners serving life sentences without parole – black prisoners far outnumber white prisoners. A black person is about 20 times more likely than a white person to be sentenced to life without parole in the federal system, the study found. In Lousiana, a full 91.4% of those serving life without parole for nonviolent crimes are black.
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