Lifers Inc.

3,977 supporters

Lifers Incorporated at SCI-Graterford (Lifers Inc.) is an inmate organization comprised of life-sentenced inmates (lifers). The primary mission of the organization is to secure legislative action to retroactively offer parole review to any inmate sentenced to a term of life imprisonment in a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) facility. ​ The intended purpose of the Parole Eligibility Education Initiative is not to put the state criminal justice system on trial. Similarly, this educational campaign does not seek to challenge the need for, or the propriety of, a life sentence without the opportunity for parole. We recognize that in a civil society public safety is imperative and a life-term of incarceration for some convicted felons serves a legitimate purpose. ​ Lifers Inc. seeks to educate the taxpayers of Pennsylvania about the enormous economic and social costs associated with indefinitely confining what is referred to as the stock population of lifers in PDOC facilities. ​ This collaborative effort offers two independent but interrelated solutions to solve the problem of an ever increasing lifer population in Pennsylvania: Either the expanded use of the existing state commutation system to release lifers on lifetime parole, or the legislative enactment of a bill that would provide for a parole review for lifers.

Started 3 petitions

Petitioning U.S. Senate

Support Senate Bill 942: Parole Eligibility for Life Sentences

A life sentence in Pennsylvania means life, without the possibility of parole (LWOP). This means all individuals sentenced to life imprisonment may not be considered for parole, no matter how much they have reformed themselves or unlikely they are to re-offend. This includes those who have become ill or so elderly they pose little to no risk to the public. Incarcerating individuals longer than necessary creates an exponentially rising cost for the corrections system – and the taxpayers who fund it. Last year, the budget for the PA Department of Corrections exceeded $2.1 billion. Introduced by Senator Street, SB 942 is a companion bill to HB 135 introduced by State Representative Jason Dawkins. It permits an individual sentenced to life imprisonment under the laws of this Commonwealth to be considered for parole after spending at least 15 years in prison. It also extends parole eligibility retroactively to those sentenced prior to the effective date of the legislation. The bill creates no right to parole, so it will not allow our most dangerous inmates to go free. The Commonwealth’s Board of Probation and Parole will continue to responsibly reject requests for parole from those who do not deserve it, or who present too great a safety risk to the public. This is the first time there has been legislation in both the House and Senate to end LWOP in Pennsylvania! Help us let our senators know the importance of this issue and make the changes to create a humane, just, and restorative correctional system!    Photo credit: Harvey Finkle

Lifers Inc.
2,063 supporters
Petitioning Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Support PA House Bill 135: Parole Eligibility for Life Sentences

Currently, there is no meaningful review process or release mechanism for a lifer in Pennyslvania. This has led to exponentially rising costs ($2.1 BILLION last year) for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. The Lifers Inc. Parole Eligibility Educational Initiative focuses on the long-term financial implications to the taxpayer for a life sentence without the possibility of parole (LWOP). A conservative estimate of the cost to house ONE lifer in the PDOC over the course of his/her term of imprisonment is $3.6 million, while Pennsylvania continues to face revenue shortfalls in the FY 2017-18 General Appropriations Budget. Introduced by State Representative Jason Dawkins, House Bill 135 would "abolish LWOP in Pennsylvania and extend parole eligibility to those sentenced to life imprisonment". The House Bill seeks to amend 61 Pa. C.S  § 6137 to eliminate the prohibition against parole review for "an inmate... serving life imprisonment." House Bill No.135 would further prescribe, "the power to parole...may not be exercised in the Board's discretion at any time before, but only after fifteen years in the case of an inmate sentenced to life imprisonment". If the evidence of post-sentencing rehabilitation does not support a decision to release the inmate, the Board would reject the request. ​Currently, the bill has 16 co-sponsors: Dawkins, Gainey, Kinsey, Youngblood, Bloom, V. Brown, Bullock, Frankel, McClinton, Thomas, Ravenstahl, Kim, Rozzi, Daley, Rabb, Dean, Donatucci, and Vazquez.  The bill is pending in the Legislature House Judiciary Committee. If the bill does not get a majority vote from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (103 votes), it will die in committee. It has taken more than 40 years to get bill like his introduced. We need everyone who to contact their State Representative and Senators and urge them to support and endorse House Bill No. 135 ["Parole Eligibility Expansion for Life Sentences"]

Lifers Inc.
792 supporters
Petitioning Tom Wolf

Expand the Commutation System in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a life sentence means life-- without the possibility of parole. Commutation is defined as a change of a sentence or punishment to one that is less severe; in this case, to release lifers on lifetime parole. Between 1971 and 1995, PA Governors commuted 285 life sentences. Between 1995 and 2016, PA Governors commuted ONLY 8 life sentences.  It costs the taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania $3,602,743 per person to house a lifer. As the prison population more than doubled from 1990 to 2015, the Department of Corrections Budget has skyrocketed to over 2.2 billion dollars a year. In 2015, 1200 lifers were 55 or more years old and had served at least 25 years of prison time. Age has a strong negative correlation with recidivism. Senior age lifers who have been commuted have about a 1% recidivism rate. Currently, there is no meaningful release mechanism for a meritorious lifer. Expanding the existing commutation system would give rehabilitated lifers a chance at parole, giving them hope and an opportunity to give back to the community. Even compassionate release is a difficult process in Pennsylvania.  This educational campaign does not seek to challenge the need for, or the propriety of, a life sentence without the opportunity for parole. We recognize that in a civil society public safety is imperative and a life-term of incarceration for some convicted felons serves a legitimate purpose. The organization's first documentary, "A Dignified Death", focuses the release of terminally or seriously ill persons from Pennsylvania state prisons. "Second Looks: Second Chances", a new documentary being released in August 2017, takes a closer look at the state's commutation system and how its expanded use can benefit the tax payers of Pennsylvania. 

Lifers Inc.
1,122 supporters