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Jailed for Life for Stealing a $159 Jacket? 3,200 Serving Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Crimes

Society & Culture  (tags: ACLU, new study )

- 1650 days ago -
Also for stealing gas from a truck, shoplifting, owning a crack pipe, aiding $10 marijuana sale & trying to cash stolen check. New ACLU study: of >3,200 people nationwide in for life, 80% jailed for drug-related stuff. 65% Afro-Am, 16% Latino, 18% white..

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JL A (281)
Sunday November 17, 2013, 2:16 pm
Such disparities of sentencing justice also occur under three-strikes laws like CA's, and why the State has such a disproportionate level of its residents behind bars. One of the earliest cases of a third strike offense was stealing a piece of pizza. Such policies and practices cost taxpayers way too much and rarely are found to improve public safety in any measurable way. Thanks for posting Lucy.

LucyKaleido S (82)
Sunday November 17, 2013, 2:16 pm
Jailed for Life for Stealing a $159 Jacket? 3,200 Serving Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Crimes

A shocking new study by the American Civil Liberties Union has found that more than 3,200 people nationwide are serving life terms without parole for nonviolent offenses. Of those prisoners, 80 percent are behind bars for drug-related convictions. Sixty-five percent are African-American, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino — evidence of what the ACLU calls "extreme racial disparities." The crimes that led to life sentences include stealing gas from a truck, shoplifting, possessing a crack pipe, facilitating a $10 sale of marijuana, and attempting to cash a stolen check. We speak with Jennifer Turner, human rights researcher and author of the new ACLU report, "A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses."


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: A shocking new study by the American Civil Liberties Union has found that more than 3,200 people nationwide are serving life terms without parole for nonviolent offenses. Of those prisoners, 80 percent are behind bars for drug-related crimes. Sixty-five percent are African-American, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino—evidence of what the ACLU calls "extreme racial disparities." The crimes that led to life sentences include stealing gas from a truck, shoplifting, possessing a crack pipe, facilitating a $10 sale of marijuana, and attempting to cash a stolen check.

AMY GOODMAN: Sixty-three percent of those serving life without parole for these nonviolent offenses are in federal prisons. Most were sentenced under mandatory minimum laws. The ACLU says keeping nonviolent offenders behind bars for life is costing taxpayers an additional $1.8 billion. In a minute, we’ll be joined by the author of the study. But first, this is a clip from a video that features family members of some of the more than 600 prisoners it profiles.

SARLOWER SURRY: Everything he did was to hurt himself, not others. And it went from—from one-year sentence to two-year sentence to natural life.
CASHAWNA TILMAN: My dad will never get out for something so little? Natural life.
LORETTA LUMAR: For stealing a $150 jacket. And that $150 jacket got him life in prison. .../... "


ACLU "A Living Death" - SENTENCED TO DIE BEHIND BARS FOR WHAT ?? The (trivial, but TRAGIC ) Cases + Option to click for whole report

Past Member (0)
Sunday November 17, 2013, 3:12 pm
How stupid are the USA laws that put people away for life for such paltry crimes the people behind bars there must be costing tax payers a fortune For stealing a jacket i doubt in Uk whether they would get more than a slap on the wrist or for more than one offence stealing maybe 3 or 4 months They would not waste the money keeping them too long More serious crimes for them to put people in prison Seems unreal and hard to believe

Past Member (0)
Sunday November 17, 2013, 5:36 pm
Humanity is many injustices. The judicial system is a failure and a disgrace on most days. Too many irrational numb nuts deciding people's lives. These are the same buffoons who pardon rapists-murderers and animal abusers. PITIFUL. Thx LucyT+i signed Greg's petition awhile back--thx AniMaeChi

Animae C (515)
Tuesday November 19, 2013, 2:54 pm

LucyKaleido S (82)
Wednesday November 20, 2013, 2:49 am
Good grief, I have no idea! I hadn't used the link, yet, either and I DID want to sign your friend Greg's petition!
Can you put your comment back, AniMaeChi? If you look at 'messages sent', you'll find it & you can just copy & paste -- much more convenient than having to write the whole thing all over again.

Best wishes & sorry for this mishap. I can't figure out why it has disappeared.

LucyKaleido S (82)
Wednesday November 20, 2013, 2:54 am
After posting my last comment, I realized that not only do YOU have a copy of your comment in your 'messages sent' folder, but I have a copy in my messages received, as this being my post, I get a copy of all the comments that are sent to me as messages!! Youpee!

So here is your comment, restaured:

Sunday, November 17, 2013, 4:03 PM -- Our own Care2 member & friend Gregory Bartholemew is one of these 3,200 !

PLEASE sign & forward his petition:





If I do not get all 25,000, the governor will not even pick up my file and look at it. And I will therefore, have to spend the rest of my LIFE in prison! Please forward this to all you know. TY so very much. :)

Animae C (515)
Wednesday November 20, 2013, 3:53 am
Very clever Lucy!!!
i didn't even think of looking in my sent folder but even if i did i empty out sent & trash folders daily!
Thank you so much for restoring it!

LucyKaleido S (82)
Wednesday November 20, 2013, 6:30 am
Not only is there NOTHING OFFENSIVE about your post, AniMae, but it is - & should SERVE as - a LESSON to every American, as proof of how CRUEL & INHUMAN & INHUMANE our justice systems --in the various States & on the federal level, too-- are! Greg's story deserves to be cried over; it breaks my heart, really it does. A person would have to be made of stone, have a stone for a heart, & Play-Dough instead of a brain, to think that stealing $23 bucks merits life in prison without parole!

I wish EVERYONE on C2, for starters, could find out about this & try to do something to get Greg released!

Was Greg armed when he carried out these robberies? I think of that because I really can't grasp how such petty robberies, for such petty amounts of $$, ALONE, could possibly get someone locked up for life!

Is it because he was on drugs that the robbery charges were ratcheted up to such an absurd degree?

How his tragic childhood & adolescence did not weigh in as extenuating circumstances is beyond my comprehension, as well! What kind of a lawyer did he have? I'm sure he was very poorly defended - I can think of no other explanation.

TY very much for sharing his story & thanks as well for the comment on my page! (I love getting comments, it's a weakness of mine!)
I'll try to put one on yours, but must get off the computer now, as we only have one at home & my companion uses it to practice the sax (alto) & gets priority, as this is his work.

Thanks again. Hugs to you.

Animae C (515)
Thursday November 21, 2013, 1:59 pm
Lucy i'm so sorry for taking a few days to reply, this is how behind i am with PM's...
pages & pages of them! : )

i have never had a comment removed & then suddenly this one which i posted in a couple of other threads is gone. Didn't know what to make of it, of course i had to consider that it may have offended someone, why it would offend i have no idea!

Greg's full story is on his page, no he wasn't armed but he was holding a towel b/c it was raining & somehow it was implicated that he was carrying a weapon.

i wish i could do more to help all these people who are so cruelly put away for their entire life, it's heartbreaking.


Sheryl G (363)
Friday November 22, 2013, 9:32 am
I read this piece and watched the video awhile back but haven't had the time to comment on this important cause you highlight. I am forwarding this story in a few minutes and do hope that will make up for my lack of comment. The War on Drugs, the 3 Strikes Laws, the policies of the last 30 to 40 years, now in combination with the private prison system is driving more and more Americans into prison for longer and longer and harsher sentences.

Many of these crimes are non-violent, should of been dealt with medically for those with mental illness or drug related problems. With a broken Health Care system these are the people who become our throw away in this throw away society and now with the Private hands getting into the mix, it has become another way to make money off of the unfortunate.

Between the Military Industrial Complex and the Prison Industrial Complex there are becoming fewer choices of how one can live in this Country. More monies are going into these two places than into the Health Care or to an Educational system that would allow members of society to have opportunities. With NAFTA removing the jobs overseas and the TPP right behind it, that leaves fewer and fewer people to be filling the only other spot left in society, Consumers.

Ever since Citizen United our fate was sealed even harder........yet few seem to notice. On my profile page I wrote right after Citizen United passed:

There you have it. Corporations are our new citizens. And you? If you're lucky, you get to make a choice: consumer, warrior or prisoner. Which will it be?

I didn't notice where anyone stated they had signed the petition that was within the transcript. Is nice to be aware but we need to do what we can where we can to provide some action. I have therefore placed that petition onto the C2 news in hopes it will get some attention. Maybe you can comment on it and link back your story on the thread.


Deb E (63)
Friday November 22, 2013, 11:19 am
Thanks for the post, Lucy, and for the forward, Sheryl. This country is in so much trouble.

Kit B (276)
Friday November 22, 2013, 11:42 am

# 429 (?) Kit, you took action on November 22, 2013. In a civilized society we would not use jails or prisons for non-violent offenders. We would offer treatment and education in the form of JOB training. Of course we are not a civilized society. We are happy to pay nearly 2 billion in tax dollars to hold people in prison, and possibly be paying for their children to eat. We could cut this from the budget but, most prisons are now for profit, so that might be a bit of problem.

I know of one young man that killed both of his parents, he was pissed that dad took his car over poor grades. He served just under 4 years. There was no question about his guilt, well at the time I thought he was innocent, that was shattered when he was released and finally confessed. Since then I have seen the police reports and court transcript. Yes, the wealthy do have a very different system of justice.

Thanks Jill - people do need to think about this.

Aurea Aurea Walker (226)
Friday November 22, 2013, 12:06 pm
So SIGNED! Rapist who caused his student to commit suicide gets 30 days in jail and only actually served one day in jail! rest of sentence was swept away as time spent awaiting trial. Judges reasoning was that the 14 year old girl was way ahead of her chronological age, forget the fact her rapist was 35 years older than her and her TEACHER! Different girls different cities but circumstances the same i.e. drunk and drugged and gang raped by football arsetheletes (sic) video, post video on you tube and in one case one of the arsewipe is the d.a.'s son another one is the sherrif's son. What jail time? NONE! In both cases the families were literally run out of town. One of the victims homes was burnt to the ground under suspicious circumstances. Suspicious, oh sure I believe that - oh so not! Hey, how about senator Ravel from Florida getting caught for BUYING COCAINE and not for the first time as Ravel was a known buyer. Ravel is using the sob story about his mother dying on his wedding day etc....... What does the hypocritical piece of shit Ravel get, REHAB and our tax dollars are paying for it! Yes, it is the same Ravel who voted for having SNAP receipients be drug tested before receiving benefits. How is that for being a two bit flim flam, double dealing piece hypocritical piece of shit. Will he do jail time, of course NOT he is white, republican and male which equals a "get out jail free card". How about this, let us raise a white flag of surrender to the drug war, we have lost plain and simple. Drug addicts, alcoholics need help not imprisoment. Drug pusher/dealers are a whole other case and yes they should go to jail for a very long time. By the way my sympathy goes out to Ravel's mother, she died of alcoholism. But Ravel cannot use her as his excuse, having financial means he could & should have gotten help, choose not too. No empathy for him.

Terrie W (798)
Friday November 22, 2013, 12:14 pm
Well my comment went down the rabbit hole.....S/S/N

Birgit W (160)
Friday November 22, 2013, 12:35 pm
Are you kidding me? Our biggest criminals (The big corporations) get away with everything, and little people are thrown into jail. Disgusting.

Animae C (515)
Friday November 22, 2013, 2:07 pm
Recent Signers
4 seconds ago AniMaeChi d. from California

SuSanne P (193)
Friday November 22, 2013, 2:56 pm
2 seconds ago SuSanne P.
Thank you Lucy and all the brilliant posts. This is a travesty with no Hope in sight, at least in my lifetime I fear.

Angelika R (143)
Friday November 22, 2013, 3:57 pm
thanks for this post Lucy, saw it before but failed to comment, and have signed that petition before from email.
It might sound cynical but I'm tempted to cite WRP's words here (Kit's recent post) : "This is America, this is who we are" -certainly enough to leave one speechless and certainly enough to FIGHT FOR CHANGE as well!

S J (130)
Friday November 22, 2013, 4:25 pm
you took action on October 16, 2013

Thanks Lucy and thanks Dandelion for fwd

Here, many mothers are jailed because they stole milk for their babies, some have some of their kids in the jail with them too. It's hell here!

Sheryl G (363)
Friday November 22, 2013, 4:59 pm
We give children as young as 12 life sentences, and some parents are allowed to keep their children in select prisons up to age 2. I'd say many Countries have room for improvement in the treatment of the poorer members of society. If you even run across any petitions for that which you speak SJ J send it along I'll certainly sign.

Judith C (159)
Friday November 22, 2013, 5:30 pm
Truly shocking.

Rose Becke (141)
Friday November 22, 2013, 10:39 pm
This is like some sick Joke !
I signed from the link that Dandelion put up

Bridget Robertson (106)
Saturday November 23, 2013, 9:33 am
Noted and signed from the link Dandelion put up. Prison has become big business in this country.

Ondine J (134)
Saturday November 23, 2013, 10:26 am
Noted with dismay, I am shocked. I learned something new today. Thanks Lucy travi and AniMaeChi for pointing it out.

Susanne R (235)
Saturday November 23, 2013, 11:02 pm
Our justice system is in desperate need of repair! The disparities in sentencing relative to the severity of the crimes committed are outrageous! You have to wonder, as in Greg's case, if he received any competent defense. If he had, his mother and her pimp would most certainly have been imprisoned too. This is madness, plain and simple. Yet it's our reality and there's no end in sight.

Thank you for posting this important interview, Jill.

Noted, and petitions gladly signed!

SusanAWAY Allen (219)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 11:30 am
No one deserves a sentence like this for something so trivial; especially when you see how racist it all is. This should not be happening in America. It is a travesty and totally out of line with everything for which I thought the US Constitution stood. This makes me so sad.

Reading other comments as I was coming down to post this, I will now go back and look at the other two links.

SusanAWAY Allen (219)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 11:46 am
Yes, I signed Greg's petition in July 2013. I am dismayed that there are still on 437 signatures on his petition. I have re-shared the petition on all social networking sites I use for posting causes and have strongly urged that people sign.

The other petition, end the affront to justice, was signed and shared 2 days ago.

Sheryl G (363)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 4:30 pm
I agree if each of the 400 could of shared and encouraged even one or two more people to sign and asked them to get one or two people we could do so much better for this man who languishes.

Animae C (515)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 5:16 pm
THANK YOU Dandelion & Susan!

Greg isn't fairing well in jail, for the past couple of months he has had dangerously high blood pressure, which is affecting his sight, he's now almost blind! Teresa has tried so hard to convince them he needs a doctor, i can't believe it, it's so incredibly cruel but they are not allowing him to see one!

Sheryl G (363)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 5:22 pm
If he is in a For Profit prison, his seeing a Dr. will take money out of their pockets. He still fills a bed even if he is blind, so they will collect the monthly money. Sounds is. If it isn't a For Profit, the cutbacks due to all of us living with austerity measures is par for the day, many who are not even in prison can't see a Dr., in hopes it will not become so if they get on the Affordable Care Act but that still is not in full force and we'll have to see how good it's going to be as it still isn't Universal Health Care. I'm doing what I can to get people to read the petition and add their signature. Is hard going on C2 if it isn't for an animal, even if the human being is being treated like an animal or worse.

Animae C (515)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 5:32 pm
Thank you Dandelion

i can't say i'm appalled, it's so much more than that....
i'm heartbroken at the delusion in this world.... everywhere.
i absolutely Love & help animals daily but i also Love my brothers & sisters worldwide,
i don't understand humans ignoring humans, it is not COMPASSION when it's for a certain few species on the planet!
True Compassion is for ALL, even our enemies.

This is Specieism

Sunday November 24, 2013, 10:22 pm
I thank all of you for your continued support. Now if anyone knows of a lawyer looking to do pro bono work in NJ, please pass my name along. I could use a good lawyer. Not one that sleeps in the same office with the prosecutor, and other law officials. I am just so completely humbled by all if the love and care in this site. God bless you all!

. (0)
Monday November 25, 2013, 9:37 am
We have murders, drug dealers, child molesters, animal killers, etc. who end up either walking away or serving "little" jail time. How ludicrous is this? A life sentence for stealing a jacket!! Beyond belief..TY Lucy and Dandelion for the fwd

Lois Jordan (63)
Monday November 25, 2013, 12:39 pm
Noted. Also signed the petition. Thank you, Lucy.....and Dandelion for the link.

Irene S (69)
Tuesday November 26, 2013, 2:57 am
Difficult to believe for me, makes me wonder seriously about the US justice system.

Gina Caracci (219)
Saturday December 21, 2013, 8:10 pm
the white, the rich, the right wing, the connected and the most evil scum get away with everything..

Signed for Greg in august

prisons are MONEY and unless WE do something we will all end up there

TY Dandelion!

. (0)
Saturday December 21, 2013, 8:35 pm
So where do you draw the line on creeps who insist on committing crime after crime after crime no matter how non-violent it is? There are criminals running around who have committed dozens upon dozens of non-violent crimes and the rest of us just have to put up with it? How many crimes make you a habitual criminal? I believe in second chances, maybe even third chances but you have to draw a line somewhere. I'm all for finding a better and cheaper way to deal with non-violent criminals, but some of them deserve prison.

LucyKaleido S (82)
Saturday December 21, 2013, 11:22 pm
Donn M, please don't be offended, but you've missed the most ESSENTIAL point:

That minor, non-violent crimes do not deserve LIFE IN PRISON; no one said that 'criminals' &/or certain types of crime do not merit ANY prison at all. That is not the argument here!

We are talking about & protesting LIFE SENTENCES, with NO POSSIBILITY --EVER!-- of CONDITIONAL RELEASE, i.e. RELEASE ON PAROLE, for minor, non-violent crimes !

Sheryl G (363)
Sunday December 22, 2013, 6:46 am
I agree the time should fit the crime. Now I'd like to see a few of those who have crashed entire economies go to jail. They have destroyed families, created homelessness, sent others to suicide, and has caused undo hardships for millions upon million around this world. Yet for others, who have done far less, must spend the remainder of their lives behind bars. That is not a justice system.

DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Saturday February 22, 2014, 2:20 pm
Donn M, life in prison for stealing a jacket? Seriously. Even if it is a pain in the neck to have some petty criminals in society, they are after all, petty criminals. After all, life in prison costs taxpayers a mint compared to community service or a small sentence.

JL A mentioned much earlier: "One of the earliest cases of a third strike offense was stealing a piece of pizza."

That just floors me, a life sentence perhaps for pilfering pizza...not a whole pizza mind you but a piece of a pizza?

I have heard about the For Profit Prisons growing in the U.S. Also that the U.S. has a much higher incarceration rate of prisoners than do other western democracies. Is it becoming a Make Work Project for some, to imprison others for crimes that could be better served as a fine, restitution in some way or community service?

"Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.

The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King's College London.

China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. (That number excludes hundreds of thousands of people held in administrative detention, most of them in China's extrajudicial system of re-education through labor, which often singles out political activists who have not committed crimes.)"

Dandelion G, yes, very true when you say: " Now I'd like to see a few of those who have crashed entire economies go to jail. They have destroyed families, created homelessness, sent others to suicide, and has caused undo hardships for millions upon million around this world. Yet for others, who have done far less, must spend the remainder of their lives behind bars. That is not a justice system."

They are often the rich elites, the CEO's, the bankers and we know that they often simply do not to the time for what they have often done to the economy and to the lives of other people.

DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Saturday February 22, 2014, 2:22 pm
Sorry that should have been they often simply do not do the time for what they've done.
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