Why I Oppose "Life Without Parole"
By Alice Lynd, Prisonersolidarity.Org
Dec. 30, 2006
Life without parole is dying one inch at a time.
People need hope. People can change. These are two things that I have seen again and again when working with prisoners.
Some years ago, I talked with a man who was sentenced to life in prison. "Why should I maintain exemplary behavior if nobody cares?" he asked me, or words to that effect.
Another prisoner who had been sentenced to life in prison told me that after years of his appeals going nowhere, he came to feel that his life had no value. Hopeless at that point, he says, he did not value the life of anyone else either. He is now on death row.
How often have you heard it said that young prisoners, sentenced to life in prison, have nothing left to lose?
Then there is Karla Faye Tucker, who was executed in Texas for horrific crimes, but by the time she was killed she had not only repented but was serving as a positive force in the prison where she was doing her time. Her story is not unique.
We talked with Glenn Benner in the honor block on Ohio's death row while awaiting his execution date. He had not had a conduct report for 18 years. "We've matured," he said. Within hours of his execution, a childhood friend and brother of one of Glenn's victims talked with Glenn about what Glenn had done, came away believing that Glenn had changed, forgave Glenn, and now opposes the death penalty.
A prisoner, who celled with murderers who were not sentenced to death, told us that those men might seem happy-go-lucky during the day but at night they were racked with remorse. They would say words to this effect: "I would give anything if I could breathe life back into the person I killed."
Most murderers are not sentenced to death. Some are given the possibility of parole after serving a lengthy number of years. Why should not that possibility be kept open for all prisoners who, in a tragic moment many years ago, committed an offense of a kind that they would never do again?
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