Author: Fair Punishment Project

Challenging Juvenile Life Without Parole: Bell v. Arkansas

“Does imposing a life without parole sentence on a juvenile who neither killed nor intended to kill but who was convicted of felony murder violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments?” That’s the question presented in a Petition for Certiorari filed in Bell v. Arkansas, a case likely to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in May. The Fair Punishment Project filed a friend of the court brief in Bell. We made two main arguments. First, pushing beyond what the Petitioner urges in the case, we argued that life without the possibility of parole is invariably unconstitutional when it...

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Life Without Parole – From Bad Lawyers to No Lawyer At All

The quality of attorneys providing a defense to individuals charged with crimes that expose them to possible life without parole (LWOP) sentences varies tremendously. Some are not up to the extremely important task of providing a vigorous defense after conducting a thorough investigation. Whether unqualified, under-resourced, or uninterested, some defense lawyers fail fundamentally to comprehend and make their clients aware of the seriousness of the charges they face. Eddie Joe Lloyd’s case is one example of how inadequate representation can land someone in prison for life. Although he was eventually exonerated by the Innocence Project, Lloyd served 17 years...

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Report Finds Juvenile LWOP Sentences Concentrated in a Few Counties, Disproportionately Impact Youth of Color

In September 2015, the Phillips Black Project, a non-profit public interest law practice dedicated to providing legal representation to individuals facing severe sentences, released a report titled: No Hope: Re-Examining Lifetime Sentences for Juvenile Offenders. The report examines the origins of life without parole sentences for juveniles (JLWOP), and reveals that there is a clear trend in America away from this practice. Included in the research is a database of every juvenile currently serving a sentence of JLWOP, along with an examination of each state’s JLWOP policy. The report establishes two key findings: 1. JLWOP sentences are largely imposed...

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Outlier Death Penalty Counties Defined by Racial Exclusion

Caddo Parish, LA Until last year, the Confederate flag flew outside Caddo’s courthouse. The Confederate monument remains. Caddo has a history of excluding African-Americans from jury service. A recent study found that prosecutors struck African-Americans from jury service at three times the rate on non-African-Americans. This pattern of racial exclusion may not be surprising given that Caddo had the second highest number of lynchings of African-Americans in the U.S. Clark County, NV Prosecutors in Clark County have been scolded by the the State Supreme Court multiple times about excluding jurors from capital cases on the basis of race. “I...

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Outlier Death Penalty Counties Defined by Wrongful Convictions of the Innocent

Four out of seven death row exonerations in the U.S. in 2015 came from outlier death penalty counties. Glenn Ford, pictured above, was exonerated in 2014 from Caddo Parish, LA. Jefferson County, AL Anthony Ray Hinton: Exonerated 2015 Montez Spradley: Exonerated 2015 Maricopa County, AZ Debra Milke: Exonerated 2015 Harris County, TX Alfred Dewayne Brown: Exonerated...

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