By Linn Washington, Jr.
Hundreds from across Pennsylvania rallied inside the Rotunda of the Capitol in Harrisburg recently to offer a solution for resolving an enormously expensive problem in state law that plagues the state’s prison system
That expensive problem arises from Pennsylvania’s Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentences that keep inmates in prison until they die.
Every year Pennsylvania’s prison system spends “roughly $460 million” to incarcerate LWOP inmates, stated a report released last year by the Abolitionist Law Center.
Pennsylvania’s LWOP population of nearly 5,460 is the second largest in America. That population ranges from five prisoners under the age of 20 to 706 over the age of 65, according to the latest statistics available from the state’s Department of Correction.
The solution to the high costs (tangible and intangible) associated with LWOP supported by the participants in the Capitol Rotunda rally is passage of legislation pending in both the state House and Senate.
That legislation would permit LWOP prisoners to seek release from prison through review by the state’s Parole Board – a process currently barred by state law.
Supporters of that legislation, including the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration that staged the rally, are quick to note that they do not seek automatic/mass release of LWOP prisoners, only a mechanism to permit LWOP prisoners the opportunity convince the Parole Board that they merit release.
Supporters want a ‘second chance’ for LWOP prisoners.
Pennsylvania state legislators supporting changes regarding LWOP attended the rally. Those legislators included House members and Senators, Democrats and Republicans.
State Senator Sharif Street of Philadelphia, a leader in legislative efforts to change LWOP and initiate other criminal justice system reforms, addressed the often-overlooked financial costs associated with life-time imprisonment.
For example, the annual costs for inmates over 55 is twice and sometimes three times higher than the $42,000-per-year cost for non-elderly inmates. State prison system officials acknowledge the monthly expenditure of $3.2 million on medications needed for elderly inmates.
“We’d do better putting that money into schools and lower taxes for people who are struggling financially,” Senator Street said. “Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system is bad!”
The cost of lifetime incarceration for a person sentenced to LWOP at age 25 was estimated at $3.6-million in that Abolitionist Law Center study.
Nearly 75 percent of Pennsylvania’s LWOP prisoners are black and Latino. And half of Pennsylvania’s LWOP prisoners come from just one of the state’s 67 counties: Philadelphia…
For the rest of this article by LINN WASHINGTON, JR. in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: https://thiscantbehappening.net/life-without-parole-sentences-rob-taxpayers-pervert-justice/