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Should We Ever Sentence Children to Life Without the Possibility of Parole?

What’s wrong with possibilities? Earlier this month, the California Court of Appeal held that a trial court could impose a sentence of life without the possibility of parole (or LWOP) on a 16-year-old boy even though the court could not rule out the possibility of rehabilitation. He’s older now, but the boy was just sixteen years old when he committed Read More

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Mother of Five Gets New Trial on Capital Murder Conviction

Have you heard of Hannah Overton? She’s spent the last seven years serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the murder of her four-year-old, then-soon-to-be-adopted son. But this September, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is that state’s supreme court for criminal cases, reversed her conviction and sent it back Read More

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80,000 Ghosts

John McCain wrote of his time as a prisoner of war, “It’s an awful thing, solitary. It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.” Tomorrow night, PBS will air a Frontline documentary that looks at solitary confinement through the lens of conditions at one state prison in Maine. You can check your local Read More

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A Ten-Year Sentence for $50 of Marijuana?

And to make it worse, the poor soul may have been set up. Here’s the story. Two cops stop a guy, supposedly for horsing around on his bicycle in the middle of the street. They pat him down, supposedly because he approached them holding out two Xanax pills in his hand and saying, “Do you want to talk to me? This is all I have.” They pat him Read More

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Massachusetts Says No to LWOP Sentences for Children and Adolescents

On Christmas Eve, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which is the highest court in the Commonwealth, held that sentences of life without the possibility of parole (or LWOP) for people under the age of 18 were unconstitutional, and it struck them down. The court based its ruling on the Eighth Amendment, and it observed that imposing LWOP sentences on minors was Read More

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Life Without the Possibility of Parole is A Living Death, And In Some Cases, For What?

“If this were happening in any other country, Americans would be aghast. A sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for trying to sell $10 of marijuana to an undercover officer? For sharing LSD at a Grateful Dead concert? For siphoning gas from a truck?” So reads a new report by the American Civil Read More

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A Conservative Group Makes a Conservative’s Case Against the Death Penalty

A recent Gallup poll reports that support for the death penalty has reached its lowest point in 40 years, dropping from a high of 80% in 1994 to around 60% today. Here, the Washington Times features a conservative group that aims to advance the conservative case against the death penalty, based on two arguments: one moral and one fiscal. Whatever Read More

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#Unconventional: Do We Bring Back the Guillotine? Really?

Before you dismiss the idea, consider this exposition of why the guillotine, when compared to lethal injection or electrocution, is the lesser of evils. Simultaneously, it may be the quickest, least painful way to impose death while still satisfying whatever sense of retribution motivates us to impose it in the first place. Furthermore, both lethal injection and electrocution undermine any effort to harvest donated organs for transplant because lethal injection destroys Read More

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The Cruelest Thing One Man Can Do to Another

In 1972, Herman Wallace was an inmate in a Louisiana state prison when he and two other inmates were accused of killing a prison guard in what may have been a politically-motivated prosecution. (But that never happens, right?) By many accounts, the case against the men had problems, and last week, a federal judge reversed Wallace’s Read More

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