Life sentences are horribly cruel and unjust in many ways

The “conventional wisdom” wants you to think that long prison sentences make the rest of us safe.  That is NOT true.  Long prison sentences — especially life sentences — are horribly cruel and unjust in many ways.

An excellent source of information is The Sentencing Project,  They conduct excellent quality research and advocacy to reduce and eliminate the gross injustices in criminal justice sentencing.  I have read their materials and donated financial support for many years.

In April 2021 they reported this:  “One in seven people in prison — over 200,000 individuals — are serving a sentence of life without parole, life with parole, or a virtual life sentence of at least 50 years.”

The organization researches the problem especially thoroughly every four years.  The 2021 report — No End in Sight:  America’s Enduring Reliance on Life Imprisonment — concludes that we really must abolish life sentences.  You can read the report at this link:  No End In Sight: America’s Enduring Reliance on Life Imprisonment | The Sentencing Project 

The Sentencing Project concludes that life sentences do NOT make us safer and that life sentences compound racial and gender injustice.

Life sentences do NOT make us safer:

The organization sates this:  “Research shows that as people mature, they age out of crime and present a diminishing risk to public safety.  Yet 30% of people serving life sentences are age 55 or older.  They would pose little or no risk to public safety if they were released.  Instead, thousands of vulnerable, elderly people are housed in our nation’s brutal and inhumane prisons and taxpayers bear the enormous cost of housing, feeding, and providing medical care for an increasingly elderly population.”

Life sentences compound racial and gender injustice:

The organization states this:  “Just as people of color are disproportionately policed and punished, they are also disproportionately serving life sentences.  One in 5 Black men in prison today is serving a life sentence.  In all, more than two-thirds of those serving life sentences are people of color.  Between 2008 and today, the number of women serving life without parole increased by 43%, compared to a 29% increase for men.  Today one in 15 women prisoners is serving a life sentence.”


The Sentencing Project does excellent work.  You can read their 2020 annual report of accomplishments at this link:











About GlenAnderson 1514 Articles
Since the late 1960s Glen Anderson has devoted his life to working as a volunteer for peace, nonviolence, social justice, and progressive political issues. He has worked through many existing organizations and started several. Over the years he has worked especially for such wide-ranging goals as making peace with Vietnam, eliminating nuclear weapons, converting from a military economy to a peacetime economy, abolishing the death penalty, promoting nonviolence at all levels throughout society, and helping people organize and strategize for grassroots movements to solve many kinds of problems. He writes, speaks, and conducts training workshops on a wide variety of topics. Since 1987 he has produced and hosted a one-hour cable TV interview program on many kinds of issues. Since 2017 he has blogged at He lives in Lacey near Olympia WA. You can reach him at (360) 491-9093