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No Exit: The Expanding Use of Life Sentences in America

While persons serving life sentences include those who present a serious threat to public safety, they also include those for whom the length of sentence is questionable. In particular, life without parole sentences often represent a misuse of limited correctional resources and discount the capacity for personal growth and rehabilitation that comes with the passage of time. This report challenges the supposition that all life sentences are necessary to keep the public safe, compared to a term of fewer years. We conclude with recommendations for changes in law, policy and practice which would, if adopted, address the principal deficiencies in the sentencing of people to life in prison.

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