Vermont State Legislature : Pass a bill abolishing Life Without Parole Sentencing

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Vermont no longer executes people.  But Vermont has yet to stop the inhuman and immoral practice of death by incarceration: life sentences without the possibility of parole. Please join us in an effort to replace the sentence of life without the possibility of parole with a maximum sentence of life with the possibility of parole after 20 years.

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This change would not guarantee release after 20 years (or ever). The parole board will appropriately conclude that some individuals can not be safely returned to the community. But it would ensure that we no longer lock people up and throw away the key.

Instead, after decades of punishment, a parole board would assess whether or not supervised parole in the community would be in the best interest of justice and the community. Imprisoning a person for life without any hope of release is a form of mental torture. It removes an important incentive for good conduct within a prison putting other incarcerated people and prison staff at risk. It ignores the known risk that judges and juries sometimes make mistakes. It ignores research that shows that many people who committed a serious crime are highly unlikely to ever do so again, and it ignores the human capacity to change.

Vermont has already taken the step of eliminating the sentence of lifewithout the possibility of parole for juveniles.  It is time for Vermont to extend the same recognition of justice and humanity to all incarcerated Vermonters.