Fact: Approximately 250,000 youth are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults annually.
Fact: Of youth who spend time in an adult jail, more than half serve for at least one month, while 1 out of 5 will serve more than six months.
Fact: Of youth who spend time in adult jails, as much as half will be sent back to the juvenile justice system or not convicted at all.
Source: Key Facts, Campaign for Youth Justice
Fact: The most serious charge against 51% of all inmates is a drug offense. Only 4% are incarcerated for robbery and only 1% for homicide.
Fact: The most serious charge against state-prison inmates is a drug offense (20%).
Source: Wonkbook: 11 facts about America’s prison population
Fact: There are at least 175 inmates serving life without parole (LWOP) for nonviolent crimes in Louisiana. This includes:
- Vincent Cushinello, who is serving LWOP for slashing tires in 2001;
- Anthony Kelly, sentenced to LWOP for possession of 32 grams of marijuana with intent to distribute in 1999, at age 25;
- Fate Vincent Winslow, sentenced to LWOP for acting as a go-between in the sale of two small bags of marijuana, worth $10 in total, to an undercover police officer when he was homeless.
Fact: The 175 inmates will cost the taxpayers of Louisiana nearly $100 million over the span of their incarceration.
Source: Three Recommendations for Sentencing Reform in Louisiana; Reason Foundation
Fact: Black and white Americans use all drugs at approximately the same rates.
Fact: Blacks are more than ten times as likely to be sent to prison for a drug offense.
Fact: For nearly 20% of those serving life without parole for a nonviolent drug or property crime are doing so for their first offense.
Fact: In more than 80% of these cases, the judges had no choice but to sentence to life, based on mandatory-minimum offender statutes.
Fact: Only 20% of countries in the world allow a sentence of life without parole, typically for “murder or repeated violent crimes.”
Source: New York Times, Sentenced to a Slow Death
Fact: 95% of federal convictions are without trials. For drug-related federal offenses, the figure is 97%.
Source: An Offer You Can’t Refuse by Human Rights Watch, covered by Salon
“The policy of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses has empowered the government to effectively nullify the constitutional right to a trial.” – George Will
Fact: Black youth are nine times more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence.
Fact: Hispanics are 40% more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence.
Source: Campaign for Youth Justice