Most Western democracies have few or no people serving life sentences, yet in the United States more than 200,000 people are sentenced to such prison terms. Ashley Nellis of The Sentencing Project argues that there is no practical or moral justification for a sentence longer than twenty years, and contends that harsher sentences have been shown to have little effect on crime rates. She takes Town Hall’s stage to share insight from her book The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences—and meets with Steve Herbert, University of Washington Professor of Law, Societies, and Justice, to discuss the flaws in a life-sentence based criminal justice system.
Herbert offers his own data-rich portrait of the challenges that a life sentence poses, both to the prisoners and to the staffers charged with caring for them. He shares moving personal profiles of individuals affected by life sentences—collected in his book Too Easy to Keep: Life-Sentenced Prisoners and the Future of Mass Incarceration—demonstrating through extensive interviews that many lifers show remarkable resilience and craft lives of notable purpose. Their conversation is moderated by Katherine Beckett, also of the University of Washington.
Join Nellis, Herbert, and Beckett for an illuminating conversation about the harsh consequences of excessive sentences and the critical need for our nation to consider more humanitarian punishment policies.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle and Seattle University.