At Least 20% Of Imprisoned Black Men Serve Life Sentences

Man looking out of window with security bars
Zain Murdock
March 28, 2021

America’s experiencing a horrifying trend – the number of people serving life sentences without parole has increased by 66% in the past 18 years. This increase actually had less to do with reported violence and more to do with the media deliberately over-exaggerating and inciting fear in the public. Fear of what? Us.

To put things into perspective, sentences of life without parole aren’t really a thing in the rest of the world. Other countries see it as counter-productive. If the point of imprisonment is to “rehabilitate” a person into a better citizen, why condemn them to death in a cell? Not to mention, it wastes taxpayers $40,000 a year.

But we can’t forget that 20% statistic. And because of what is called “de facto life sentences,” that number could be much bigger. De facto sentences are sentences so long – like 40 years or more – that someone is likely to die in prison anyway. That’s extreme.

Many think America has improved on the death penalty issue over time. In fact, more Americans prefer life sentencing to the death penalty for the first time since 1985. But how much progress is that really? 

We can agree that sentencing someone to death is wrong – but if we're really opposed to the death penalty through execution, we should be opposed to life sentences as well.

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