Mass incarceration

What Happened When Life Sentences Got Out of Control

The prisons are filled with aging inmates who no longer pose a public threat.

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A new study shows that the number of Americans sentenced to life in prison has more than doubled since the early 1990s, even though violent crime declined for the bulk of that period. And before you try to argue that crime was declining because of those stiff sentences, examine the numbers: The drop in crime began well before sentence lengths started skyrocketing.

The report was authored by Ashley Nellis, a senior research analyst at the Sentencing Project. It found that one in seven U.S. prisoners—roughly 200,000 people—are currently serving a life sentence. This includes those sentenced to life without parole, life with parole, and virtual life (50-plus years). That is more than twice the number of people handed life sentences than when violent crime peaked in 1992.

"The unyielding expansion of life imprisonment in recent decades transpired because of changes in law, policy, and practice that lengthened sentences and limited parole," writes Nellis. "The downward trend in violence in America that continues today was already underway when the country adopted its most punitive policies, including the rapid expansion of life sentences."

One result of these policies is an aging prison population. A Pew Poll found that from 1996 to 2016, the number of people aged 55 or older in state and federal prisons increased by 280 percent, ballooning from 3 to 11 percent of the total prison population. This trend is even more exaggerated among those with life sentences. Currently, 30 percent of people serving life are 55 or older.

"The number and proportion of aging men and women behind bars began to increase in the mid-1990s, as a result of tough-on-crime laws—mandatory minimum sentences, 'three strikes,' and life sentences," Human Rights Watch reports. "Parole was eliminated in many places, and even where it exists, the criteria for release are too narrow and officials are reluctant to use it fully."

Nellis argues that elderly prisoners who are serving life sentences have often been incarcerated for decades and have aged past the point of threatening public safety.

"Analysis of Bureau of Justice Statistics data shows the peak age of arrest for robbery is 19, declining by more than half by the late twenties," Nellis writes. "Likewise, the peak age for murder is 20, a rate that is more than halved by one's 30s and is less than one quarter of its peak by one's 40s."

Nellis points out that even among the small number of prisoners considered chronic offenders—that is, people who have committed multiple serious crimes—most no longer engage in criminal behavior after their late 30s.

Medical conditions associated with aging tend to develop sooner in prison, Nellis says. Imprisoned people are diagnosed with disproportionately high rates of cancer, arthritis, hypertension, dementia, and declines in mental health. Older prisoners are also vulnerable to violence and victimization from younger ones.

"The urgency of this crisis grows ever greater as the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately jeopardizes the lives of older Americans in prison," Nellis argues. "Reoffending by persons released after serving long terms is rare, making the need for expediting releases for older lifers the only humane public health and public safety approach."

In addition to the humanitarian issues, there is a fiscal cost to incarcerating the elderly. Federal facilities spend five times more on medical treatment for older people. At the state level, the median cost per prisoner is 37 percent higher in the 10 states with the highest share of inmates 55 and older.

Because more than half of those incarcerated are serving sentences for violent crimes, many sentence reform proposals fall short by focusing on low-level and nonviolent crimes, says Nellis. To address this, her report suggests capping sentences at 20 years "except in rare circumstances based on individualized determination"—with the determination based on the individual's behavior in prison.

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  1. “The prisons are filled with aging inmates who no longer pose a public threat.”

    Outrageous. That’s why we need to #EmptyThePrisons.

    1. Life sentences are needed to deter murders from being committed. Longer sentences deter homicide more effectively than shorter sentences do. Studies show this. Violent crimes in California fell due to Proposition 8. It increased sentences for repeat offenders who commit murder, rape, or robbery. That didn’t just incapacitate offenders, it deterred crimes from being committed in the first place by non-incarcerated people. See, for example, Kessler & Levitt, “Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 6484.

      1. Imprisoning the innocent also has a deterrent effect. And as CS Lewis wrote:
        We may very properly ask whether it is likely to deter others and to reform the criminal. But neither of these two last questions is a question about justice. There is no sense in talking about a ‘just deterrent’ or a ‘just cure’. We demand of a deterrent not whether it is just but whether it will deter. We demand of a cure not whether it is just but whether it succeeds. Thus when we cease to consider what the criminal deserves and consider only what will cure him or deter others, we have tacitly removed him from the sphere of justice altogether; instead of a person, a subject of rights, we now have a mere object

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    2. That sentence seems entirely self-consistent.

      1. Almost everyone serving a life sentence either committed first degree murder, or is a repeat violent criminal. They deserve their life sentences, which protect public safety.

        States that hand out more life sentences have lower murder rates, saving countless innocent lives. Virginia has a much lower murder rate than neighboring Maryland, which has shorter sentences than Virginia, and — unlike Virginia — has parole, and unlike Virginia, has generous good-time sentence credits even for murderers.

        The story above is wrong to claim that “The drop in crime began well before sentence lengths started skyrocketing.” That is contradicted by the very figure it cites, Figure 1, which shows crime began leveling off as sentences got longer, then fell as sentences continued to get longer.

        Studies show longer prison sentences save lives and reduce murder, robbery, and rape.

        1. This is due to Virginia’s lax gun laws that allow Marylanders to cross the state line, get a gun then return into Maryland. /sarc

          1. The vast majority of murders in MD happen in Baltimore City and PG county. I am not going to say why this is, but if you subtract these, MDs murder rate is probably the same or not lower than Virginia.

  2. >>since the early 1990s

    when King B was a mere co-sponsor of the draconian

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  3. Chart shows locking up violent offenders lowers violent crime.

    1. Even if that’s true, is it really worth it though? More prisoners means a smaller labor force for Reason.com’s benefactor Charles Koch.

      1. a more concentrated labor force …

      2. But the prison labor force is even cheaper than the permanent Colored People Of Color underclass Charles Koch wants to import.

    2. Incorrect. There was never a cause and affect relationship between incarceration and a reduction in crime and this charts show there is not even a correlation between the two.

      The chart shows violent crime dropped significantly almost a full decade before the explosion in life sentences even began. This is not the first or only study to show prison not only does not decrease crime, it doesn’t even discourage it to begin with:

      https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/04/what-caused-the-crime-decline/477408/

      A series of studies to show that prison increases crime by creating the conditions for recidivism (the harmless become dangerous and the dangerous more dangerous).

      But then, it was never about public safety anyway as shown by the steep drop in violent crime over 3 decades while the prison rate has only expanded during that time.

      The goal is retribution and economic. As DA Kamala Harris admitted openly when she opposed early release. Many companies depend on the free labor prisoners provide and releasing them would disrupt that.

      1. Are we looking at the same chart? Because I don’t see any place on that chart where there even IS a “before the explosion in life sentences”. They’re going up right from the start.

        1. We can start by looking at the chart from 1984 and 1992, during which life sentences are positively correlated with violent crime.

          1. That part of the chart with exactly two data points for life sentences. Not exactly strong evidence.

        2. The key with understanding a graph this this is not just looking at the swiggly line, but the numbers on the x and y axis.

          During the period I mentioned, about 20 years, the number of life sentences when up from 50,000 to over 150,000, a 3 fold increase.

          I call that an explosion. Unless you’re in a prison union, a sadistic company that profits off incarceration, a prison guard or part of the criminalization complex. then I guess it’s a fun trend that didn’t go up nearly fast enough.

          1. If you assume that the explosion in life sentences starts when the graph shows it at its lowest, that would be 1984. When you refer “almost a full decade before the explosion in life sentences even began”, you’re referring to around 1975 or so, which isn’t on even the chart, which makes me wonder what you’re talking about.

            Are you confusing the two things shown on the graph? The *yellow* line is violent crime. It starts to go down around 1992, which is, as far as I can tell with the stupid lack of data points at that part of the life sentences part of the graph, right in the middle of the explosion in life sentences. Ten years *after* the explosion starts, not ten years before.

      2. Except you are comparing “violent crime” with “life sentences”. Perhaps if you compared it to murder alone, the crime most likely to get such a harsh sentence, you’d get a better result.

  4. “Nellis argues that elderly prisoners who are serving life sentences have often been incarcerated for decades and have aged past the point of threatening public safety.”

    If a murderer can pick up the same gun at fifty as he did at twenty, he can still be a threat to public safety.

    This article makes it sound like the entire aging prison population is Brooks Hatlen.

    Old people are harmless. Everybody knows that.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-26/elderly-woman-killed-man-charged-murder-varsity-lakes-gold-coast/13195186

    1. Institutionalized you say?

    2. If a murderer can pick up the same gun at fifty as he did at twenty, he can still be a threat to public safety.

      It also assumes a narrative where all these murders were knock-down, drag-out fist fights between a vivacious victim(s) and a singlular and singularly motivated burly killer. A motivated, burly killer that can be or was somehow redeemed by age/infirmity. Ray and Faye Copeland were 65 and 72 when they started their murder-spree. John Allen Muhammed was 40 something but Malvo was only 17, do we let Muhammed out at 75 but keep Malvo in for another 20 yrs.? How long should we have kept Tim McVeigh in lockup?

      1. A bit of a silly article. I understand the sentiment behind it, but the entire premise that people invariably get less dangerous with age is dubious.

        1. Sure. That’s why we have so many violent drug gangs and bank robbery syndicates operating out of nursing homes.

          1. See below.

            In a certain lifestyle/culture/element of society, the definition of “old age catching up with them” specifically means not getting caught by the law and not winding up in a nursing home.

            1. I’m not seeing anything below that supports we need to be worried about a bunch of axe wielding 70 years olds. Not even using racism will allow you to stretch credibility that far.

          2. Cuomo’s summary execution of nursing home residents makes a lot more sense now. Crime reduction.

        2. And the premise that just because they’ve gotten less dangerous, justice is served, even more ridiculous.

          Imagine John Connolly in, 1992, saying “This Whitey Bulger guy is 83 and the last murder he was even suspected of being involved in was 8 yrs. ago, we should just let him go.”

          1. There are a few problems I have with this. What the hell does “justice is served” actually mean? And why should that be the basis from which we determine criminal justice policy?

            1. So, of the few problems you have with this, are any of them letting Whitey Bulger kill people, manipulate FBI agents, have undercover agents trying to prevent him from doing so killed, and extort people?

              If not, I can understand why you wouldn’t understand the phrase “justice is served”.

              1. I don’t think anyone would advocate allowing people to kill other people or bribe government agents. I’ve never seen somebody honestly present that as an argument, but maybe I don’t use enough social media to be exposed to its true idiocy.

                I am going to use a less extreme, hypothetical example to explain my question. Suppose a sixty year old man is suspected of a single homicide, committed in 1982. This man lived the past 30 years of his life in peace, disturbing nobody since this terrible, yet isolated, crime. What is to be gained by imprisoning him?

                1. “Suppose a sixty year old man is suspected of a single homicide, committed in 1982. This man lived the past 30 years of his life in peace, ”

                  So for 22 years he pretended to be nonviolent, killed someone, had an 8 year run of violence, then pretended to be nonviolent again while in prison?

                  1. Nothing in my hypothetical scenario suggested a man was pretending to be nonviolent for 22 years, nor did it suggest a man with an 8 year run of violence. Therefore, you do not seem to be responding to my hypothetical.

                    1. You said he “This man lived the past 30 years of his life in peace”

                      1982 was 38 years ago. And he would have been 21/22 at the time.

                      So yes I am responding directly to your hypothetical. You said he was peaceful for the last 30 years. That leaves an 8 year gap.
                      What was he doing? . And whether he was actually peaceful until his first murder or just pretending is relevant as well.

                      Both of those questions are directly in response to your hypothetical.

                    2. I understand now, that is simply bad subtraction on my end. I did make it clear that this hypothetical man committed a “single homicide” and again reinforced that premise with the word “isolated.”

                      If you were misinterpreting my scenario then I can’t say much else, but if you are making fun of my subtraction error then I fully deserve it.

                    3. ” I did make it clear that this hypothetical man committed a “single homicide” and again reinforced that premise with the word “isolated.”

                      An isolated homicide says nothing about his other activities.

                      I was pointing out your terrible mental effort, not just with math.

                2. I don’t think anyone would advocate allowing people to kill other people or bribe government agents. I’ve never seen somebody honestly present that as an argument, but maybe I don’t use enough social media to be exposed to its true idiocy.

                  I thought so too and then someone defended Whitey Bulger.

                  1. At least I am not going to take that position, nor would I pretend that Bulger’s case is typical. That is why I am more interested in your response to my hypothetical situation instead of the most extreme anecdote that we can recall. It helps diffuse any emotion that might be attached to the names and cases.

                    1. “That is why I am more interested in your response to my hypothetical situation”

                      I responded to your hypothetical. You ignored it.

                    2. It’s Jeff running a sockpuppet, you can tell by the multiple socks (Blargrifth and interigi) and the intentional focus on moronic hypothetical situations that when interrogated, transform repeatedly.

                    3. I take that to mean he isn’t actually interested in a response then?

                    4. No he wants responses, just not ones like your that make his point look silly.

                  2. I thought people based public health decisions on research and outcomes. Then I ran into people who rely on nothing but self serving anecdotes to support the whatever policy they support.

                3. Suppose a sixty year old man is suspected of a single homicide, committed in 1982. This man lived the past 30 years of his life in peace, disturbing nobody since this terrible, yet isolated, crime. What is to be gained by imprisoning him?

                  Suppose we have two of them. One fell asleep at the wheel, veered off the road, killed a homeless drifter, tied his body to a chunk of concrete and dumped it in the nearest lake. The other lives in an assisted living home and quietly, over the course of several months, poisons the black orderly who walks by his room every morning. Neither one commits another “murder” over the course of the next 30 years.

                  Should both be judged the same just because they’re 90? Should the law dictate that their sentences be the same? If only there were a system not just for looking into which crimes were more or less heinous or threatening but two systems for determining which crimes were more threatening and then double-checking that sentencing is appropriate. And *then*, in case those two systems fail, a third system by which any failure of the first two systems could be reversed or altered in progress… *that’s* the system we should be using.

                  1. What I think you are asking is whether those two criminals should be judged the same if arrested as 90 year olds (30 years after the crime) as they would have if they were caught immediately. My answer is no, they should not be judged the same. This seems like a good case to apply a statute of limitations (not that one exists, but maybe one should; regardless, a court has the ability to acknowledge the circumstances and apply due leniency).

                    Neither one seems to be a habitual criminal, living peacefully for 30 years, so what is to be gained by imprisoning them so long after the date of the crime?

                    1. fudk off Jeff

                    2. No no, mad.casual here wants it be known that he favors a harsh repressive violent criminal ‘justice’ system where people act ‘correctly’ only due to fear of being punished by the state. Without such fear, people will just violate everyone’s rights with impunity. Or so it goes.

                    3. knew it was you!

                    4. Imagine believing that the only thing standing between safety and inexorable violence was the government. No wonder statists are so paranoid.

                    5. It isn’t just mad.casual either. It’s a lot of the right-wing ‘libertarians’ around here. They think government is horrible, other than the government that imprisons shoplifters for 20 years.

                    6. It’s hilarious that you have to talk to yourself because no one else will Jeff.

                    7. Imagine having to deflect to idiotic hypotheticals when real life examples are brought up.

                    8. I mean, if you’re going to lock someone up for 10 years for posting memes, 20 years would be a logical extension for someone who commits an actual crime.

            2. If whether or not “justice is served” is not the basis of your policy, you shouldn’t call it a “criminal justice” policy.

              1. I am not pushing back on that basis. Rather, I am not convinced that life sentences, or otherwise imprisoning people who are not violent threats to society, fulfills such a basis. In fact, it likely does the opposite.

                1. “And why should that be the basis from which we determine criminal justice policy?”

                  Are these not the words you used?

                  1. Yes, that was a question I asked to better understand his definition of “justice is served.”

          2. Victims should have some say in what justice looks like and not every victim agrees justice can only be a revenge based model.

            Legislating incarceration as the only measure of justice is deeply misguided and has given us by far the largest prison population in the world.

    3. Yeah, 55 is not that old.

      1. More important, it’s a false premise. If we set up a purity test that says, “Strangle this baby kitten and we’ll let you out of jail.” and only let out the people who attempt and fail to strangle the kitten. It falsely assumes that no one we release won’t run their ex-wife over with a car or take out a hit on their prosecutor.

  5. Your graph is missing the number of capital executions performed by year, which peaked in 1999.

    I’d assert that it’s almost like increasing executions may’ve deterred violent crime and, when we got rid of executions, we replaced it with jailing people excessively, but who am I to argue with the brilliance of “libertarian” ideology.

  6. The fact is many of the people are young when arrested and convicted. The anger and violence of their youth likely passes during their years in prison. I would be very surprised if the person incarcerated at 20 is really a threat at 50. More likely they are left a physically and mentally broken person by that time. It would likely be much more humane and less expensive to turn them over to a nursing home.

    1. It would likely be much more humane and less expensive to turn them over to a nursing home.

      Which executed more inmates in 2020 than the entirety of the US penal system in all of US legal history.

    2. If it’s really about anger and violence — and in many cases I agree it is — then they really need only long enough to cool off. Usually I think that’d be accomplished in a few days in the clink, in some cases as much as a month, rarely 3 months. Seriously, a crime of passion is unlikely to ever be repeated. But if the miscreant is judged to be a type who’s always prone to such acts, they should be put to death forthwith.

      1. then they really need only long enough to cool off

        Unless they’re angry about not having a job, or the job they do have, or making alimony payments to their no good ex-wife, or the political state of the nation, or the rival gang members hanging out across the block, etc., etc., etc. then a 90 day stay is just a reprieve until you reintroduce them to the source of their anger.

        You act like recidivism, even after decades of incarceration, isn’t a thing.

        1. If it is a thing after decades of incarceration, then the only thing the decades of incarceration did was incapacitate, and that could’ve been done better by dismemberment or death.

          If it’s about the job they do have, problem solved, they won’t be going back to it. If it’s about the political state of the nation, good, we need more potentially violent revolutionaries to put the scare into them.

          1. If it’s about the political state of the nation, good, we need more potentially violent revolutionaries to put the scare into them.

            So, assuming not everyone agrees with you about the death penalty, a 90 day sentence for Ted Kacynski?

            Again, I’m sorry your Mom or Dad or whomever didn’t pay enough attention to you.

            1. Why do you pick the most extreme examples? First it was Whitey Bulger, now it is Ted Kaczynski.

              Anyone can point to any anecdote to try to ‘prove’ their claim. One person can point to a person locked up for years for a petty crime as ‘proof’ that the system is too harsh. Another person can point to a person freed ‘on a technicality’ as ‘proof’ that the system is too lenient. These anecdotes say nothing. And the more extreme anecdotes like Bulger or Kaczynski say nothing as well, just more sensationalistically.

              1. “damiksec
                February.25.2021 at 5:58 pm
                It’s Jeff running a sockpuppet”

                Told you.

              2. Why do you pick the most extreme examples?

                pot, kettle

                1. lol

                  1. yeah you know he got you

              3. He always picks the most extreme example because he loves the lash and is looking for a way to get others to support him. It’s a world where some 18 year old with a loose joint in his pockets falls under the same sanctions as Jeffrey Dahmer.
                If you try to explain a complex system, the response will always be a two dimensional model where everyone is an angle or a devil and the devils must be harshly punished for the pleasure of the angles.

    3. 50 is not that old. Government workers are loading up for their second pension at that age.

      1. I know that 50 seems young but don’t think about people like you and me, think a person incarcerated for 30 years. This a person likely had an diet that is little more than adequate, same with health care, and limited exercise opportunities. They have also spent 30 years in a regimented system and likely have a dependency on the lifestyle. Only a few would be ready to start the second lap of life. Many will be putting in time till a natural death. I think these people could be better and less expensively handled than in a prison.

  7. examine the numbers: The drop in crime began well before sentence lengths started skyrocketing.

    No, by that graph, they coincided very closely.

    1. Once again, it’s a very one-dimensional analysis to of a multi-dimensional problem in order to support one side of a false dichotomy by Reason.

    2. Not only that, there’s a grand total of *two* points on the sentencing part of the graph before 2003 or so, and the crime rate starting declining around 1992. You can’t even really conclude when the “skyrocketing” began.

  8. The reason these issues are debated is that, first, criminal law generally is a mindfuck, a really weird concept that yet seems necessary; and second, nobody agrees on the purpose of incarceration. As far as I can tell, if the purpose is incapacitation, then the maximum sentence should be about 90 days, and even that long should be rare and that if further incapacitation is desired, it should be by death or dismemberment.

    The reason so many are given life is because it’s practically impossible any more to administer death, and it’s done as a deterrent to others, not for incapacitation.

    1. “[N]obody agrees on the purpose of incarceration.”

      Bingo.

      1. But in many discussions that part gets skipped, and the discutants just assume they agree with each other.

        To day nothing of debating the whole desirability of criminal law entire.

        1. OK, yeah, I was hestitant to say that you had skipped a base before in the context of your position but this comment makes it seem like you’re completely unaware that second base exists. To act like no one has ever discussed whether a 90 day incarceration or the death penalty is more fitting in any particular case or group of cases is absurd.

          1. Oh, I’m sure it’s been discussed, but only with the assumption that the discutants agreed on purposes that were unstated.

            1. *facepalm*

              It’s been discussed at every criminal hearing, sentencing hearing, appeal, clemency hearing, parol hearing, successive trials, successive/relapse hearing, successive/relapse sentencing hearing, untold number of state and federal legislative hearings, internet forums, often multiple times with multiple audiences at each of the above.

              I’m sorry whichever parent you were devoted to didn’t pay enough attention to you.

    2. criminal law generally is a mindfuck, a really weird concept that yet seems necessary mindfucked criminals necessitate

      FIFY.

      Manson didn’t die in prison because prosecutors just happened to have an empty jail cell that needed filling for 50 yrs.

    3. There’s one way to be sure that older inmates are not a threat to society — keep them locked up.

      1. Why, when you could dismember or kill them instead? Keeping them locked up is a waste.

      2. Incorrect. People (admittedly not older) escape prison, meaning keeping them locked up isn’t ‘sure’, and releasing them to their final resting place in a pine box allows you to release them *and* be sure.

  9. first instead of death sentence lets do life in prison then life in prison is cruel let them out. lets just not bother prosecuting anymore. they sure have quit in California

    1. What would you have as the purpose of prosecutions? (Since “prosecution” just means “initiation” or “making something go” or “making somebody respond” in a legal context, you should also specify what should be prosecuted.)

    2. Nonsense. It’s just that the police in California now act as the primary judge jury and executioner, usually in the back while they are running away, so it never reaches the court system.

  10. Longer sentences mean less killings, less violence, and less theft and robbery. Virginia had a crime rate less than half of Maryland’s in 2015-18. Why? Sentences were longer in Virginia. Their crime rates were vastly different even though Maryland is much richer and both states are fairly similar economically and demographically. Studies show longer sentences deter crime, and deterrence is the primary purpose of the criminal justice system.

    1. Virginia had a crime rate less than half of Maryland’s in 2015-18. Why?

      Baltimore and D.C.

      deterrence is the primary purpose of the criminal justice system

      Yeah! Fuck justice! Who needs it!

      1. But you seem to assume agreement on what “justice” is. Something circular in there.

        1. I agree that your argument is circular. “We cannot know the will of God or fate, therefor, we shouldn’t attempt to generate any sense of equality, because we can’t even perceive it or discuss it, let alone attempt to secure it.”

          Your post-modernism makes you look retarded and will get people, whose deaths could’ve been prevented, killed.

      2. Longer prison sentences work, and save lives. Virginia’s crime rate is half Maryland’s because it gives criminals longer sentences, not because of DC being nearby. Virginia’s Fairfax County and Maryland’s Montgomery County are both close to DC, yet Fairfax County had half Montgomery County’s crime rate in 2010-18. That’s because Virginia doesn’t have parole, and Maryland does, and Virginia has longer sentences.

        Studies of California’s Proposition 8 show it cut the rate for murder, rape, and robbery by increasing the length of prison sentences for repeat offenders who committed those crimes.

        1. Longer prison sentences work, and save lives.

          See my point above. The same data that says longer sentences work says that death sentences work too.

          1. That’s true, although the death penalty is irrevocable. But it is true that longer prison sentences and the death penalty both deter murder from being committed, according to studies. As the Associated Press reported in 2007, “Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five, and 14).” But there are so few executions these days it is hard to be sure about the death penalty. By contrast, statistical evidence showing that longer prison sentences deter crime is quite robust, and based on abundant data.

        2. Studies of California’s Proposition 8 show it cut the rate for murder, rape, and robbery by increasing the length of prison sentences for repeat offenders who committed those crimes.

          There seems to be some disagreement on this point.

          http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.576.6208&rep=rep1&type=pdf

      3. mad.casual, read the crime stories from Baltimore. Look at how many murders are committed by someone WHO HAS COMMITTED MURDER BEFORE.

        The leftists here will scream bloody murder about how yet another gun control law is needed to stop crime… Yet when someone actually uses a gun to commit a crime, they want them back out on the streets in 5-6 years.

        If you’ve committed murder, you have clearly demonstrated that you are not fit to live in society.

        1. If you’ve committed murder, you have clearly demonstrated that you are not fit to live in society.

          See what I wrote above. Reason has falsely framed the issue as 5-6 yrs. sentences vs. life sentences. This is a false dichotomy. There is an easy way to both remove violent criminals from society and avoid keeping 80 yr. olds in prison.

          I agree that they aren’t fit to live in society. In 2013, Maryland took the death penalty off the table. In 2021, Virginia did too. To say that life sentences worked in Virginia but not in Maryland is an incomplete picture.

    2. How do you know deterrence is the primary purpose? A lot of people talk like it’s either a minor or nonexistent purpose. I think that lack of explicitness adds to a lot of the confusion on the subject.

  11. Life sentences are just as cruel and unusual as death sentences; both should be simultaneously abolished. Prison sentences that span multiple decades accomplishes nothing but protection for public sector unions from failure to do their jobs.

    1. Cruel, maybe, but the point of this article was, not unusual.

      1. Ha. Well, you’re not wrong, unfortunately.

  12. Life sentences for people who did three strikes for shoplifting, etc are way over the top. You got no argument from me. But it would be a hard sell to reduce sentences for murderers.

    1. (Almost) everyone deserves a second chance.
      No one deserves a third chance.

      1. (Almost) everyone deserves a second chance.

        Do victims get second chances? Asking for a friend who’s totally innocent.

        1. So this is where I step in and point out that the other guys being soft as fuck on crime doesn’t absolutely require you to do what you’re doing.

          1. Fine. Done.

          2. Thank goodness Tulpa is here to enforce decorum.

            1. “damiksec’

              Weird, that doesn’t spell Tulpa.

              Oh right rent free.

              1. He’s pretending I’m you because I called out his obvious sockpuppets.

                1. And also rent free.

                  1. yes and rent free

      2. The second chance was after being caught and convicted the first time.

        The third chance was after being caught and convicted the seconds time.

        The purpose of three-strikes laws is to deny people a fourth chance, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.

  13. What’s the metric for being released from prison based on age and/or infirmity?

  14. Cost to keep a murderer in prison $50k per year.

    Cost of a bullet $.05

    1. Someone hasn’t been ammo shopping lately…

      1. Shit you’re right .22 quadrupled in price in a year. $.16

    2. Death sentences are imposed by government agents based on a verdict of government agents. What is the recourse when government convicts an innocent person and has them executed? I’m good if you shoot and kill an intruder in your home. I’m not fine with the government doing it.

      1. If there’s irrefutable evidence, I’ll do it for free.

      2. This has always confused me. People who are ostensibly don’t trust government will such their dick all the long if you put them in a clow suit with a gun and no accountability.

        You want to lower the crime rate and keep incarceration high? Incarcerate all the cops. They’re almost always greater criminals than those they arrest.

        1. So to effect law and order everyone gets a clown suit and a gun?

          1. No, that’s how you get fun times.

            To get law and order, everyone needs a batsuit and a grapple launcher

  15. Jesus Christ such idiocy. Haven’t you ever watched The Sopranos? Even in old age, violent criminals are violent. You would release a rapist on the streets even though his dick is still hard.

  16. An old person can still murder, but if you look at the statstics, the number of homicides they commit is miniscule.

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