“Over 3,000 US prisoners serving life without parole for non-violent crimes” ACLU report chronicles thousands of lives ruined by life sentences for crimes such as possession of a crack pipe…”The Guardian

Over 3,000 US prisoners serving life without parole for non-violent crimesACLU report chronicles thousands of lives ruined by life sentences for crimes such as shoplifting or possession of a crack pipe

in New York

A prisoner
65% of the prisoners identified nationwide by the ACLU are African American. In Louisiana, that proportion rises to 91%. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

At about 12.40pm on 2 January 1996, Timothy Jackson took a jacket from the Maison Blanche department store in New Orleans, draped it over his arm, and walked out of the store without paying for it. When he was accosted by a security guard, Jackson said: “I just needed another jacket, man.”

A few months later Jackson was convicted of shoplifting and sent to Angola prison in Louisiana. That was 16 years ago. Today he is still incarcerated in Angola, and will stay there for the rest of his natural life having been condemned to die in jail. All for the theft of a jacket, worth $159.

Jackson, 53, is one of 3,281 prisoners in America serving life sentences with no chance of parole for non-violent crimes. Some, like him, were given the most extreme punishment short of execution for shoplifting; one was condemned to die in prison for siphoning petrol from a truck; another for stealing tools from a tool shed; yet another for attempting to cash a stolen cheque.

“It has been very hard for me,” Jackson wrote to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as part of its new report on life without parole for non-violent offenders. “I know that for my crime I had to do some time, but a life sentence for a jacket value at $159. I have …

Please, read more here:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/13/us-prisoners-sentences-life-non-violent-crimes

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