Life Without Parole

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Scott Panetti

Texas Wants to Kill This Mentally Ill Man

By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 11:47am
Wearing a cowboy costume and a purple bandana, Scott Panetti defended himself at his capital trial in Texas without counsel, where he tried to call the Pope, J.F.K, and Jesus Christ to the witness stand. In Tennessee, Richard Taylor represented himself in his capital trial wearing sunglasses to keep out the police voices and sat completely silent through his trial. Guy LeGrande served as his own lawyer at his capital trial in North Carolina, wearing a Superman shirt and telling the jury to kiss his “natural black ass” in closing argument.
Sisters in the sun

After 17 Years, I'm Bringing My Little Sister Home from Prison

By Wendy George, Sister of commuted life-without-parole prisoner, Stephanie George at 3:17pm

When we were little, we used to tell our mama she had good ears. My little sister and I would whisper under the covers in our bed after lights out, and somehow mom could always hear us. She'd tell us to quit talking and go to sleep.

Tomorrow…

My Dad Will Never Come Home

My Dad Will Never Come Home

By April Anderson, Daughter of Dicky Joe Jackson at 1:23pm

Dad usually suggests we leave a little early because leaving is the 'elephant in the room' that we're all trying to avoid. "Ya'll go on and head home and get some rest. Don't worry about me, I'm fine." It's the same stuff every time.

My dad…

Extreme Sentencing – the "New Normal?"

Extreme Sentencing – the "New Normal?"

By Vanita Gupta, Center for Justice & Chloe Cockburn, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU at 1:33pm

It should outrage us that a homeless man will be in prison for the rest of his life because he was the middleman in the sale of $10 worth of marijuana. We can all pretty much agree that the punishment of growing old and dying behind bars for such offenses…

Hope, At Last, for Some Federal Prisoners

Hope, At Last, for Some Federal Prisoners

By Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher, Human Rights Program, ACLU at 4:53pm

Here's some truth for you: many federal prisoners would receive substantially shorter sentences for the exact same crime if they were sentenced today under the current law. Many would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Instead,…

Without a Card to Play, Texas Grandma Sentenced to Life Without Parole for First-Time Drug Offense

Without a Card to Play, Texas Grandma Sentenced to Life Without Parole for First-Time Drug Offense

By Rebecca McCray, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 10:04am

Texans can sleep more soundly at night knowing that Elisa Castillo, a grandmother and nonviolent first-time drug offender, is serving a life without parole sentence in Fort Worth. Yes, you read that right — the latest casualty of our War on…

I Will Die Here, Unless President Obama Helps

I Will Die Here, Unless President Obama Helps

By Reynolds Wintersmith, Federal Life-Without-Parole Prisoner at 1:22pm

I joined a drug ring when I was 17 years old and, for just over a year, sold crack and powder cocaine in Rockford, Ill. I was arrested when I was 19 years old.

I am now 39 years old. I have spent over half of my life in federal prison. I have…

It's Like You're Sold a Dream

It's Like You're Sold a Dream

By Lance White at 2:01pm

I lost my drive after my older brother Rufus was sentenced. I didn't care. I didn't trust. That was my attitude. Rufus was the father figure I looked up to. When he went to jail for the rest of his life, I started looking up to his buddies. A lot of…

States Take Sizeable Steps in 2012 to End Overincarceration

States Take Sizeable Steps in 2012 to End Overincarceration

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU & Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 3:48pm

As states begin to realize that they can reduce their prison populations safely, the pace of reform has begun to pick up a bit this year. State legislative sessions are coming to a close, which makes it a good time to review the actions lawmakers…

What a Waste

What a Waste

By Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher, Human Rights Program, ACLU at 9:51am

It's time to abandon the mindset that our criminal justice system should only be about extreme, one-size-fits-all punishment – particularly when the skyrocketing number of these sentences being meted out is grossly out of proportion with crime rates, which are falling.

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