Thank you so much for this article. One of the key items that seems to be overlooked in this debate is the safeguards and resources available to a person sentenced to death obtains vs. a person sentenced to life without parole. Your article references this briefly using Kenneth Hartman's quote “a long, slow, dissipating death sentence without any of the legal or administrative safeguards rightly awarded to those condemned to the traditional forms of execution.” The very nature that LWOP is not seen as a capital punishment creates a significant risk for people not getting their due process.
Even with the legal and administrative safeguards death sentence cases receive, the amount of racial discrimination and error can be easily seen in the average 5 exonerations per year during 2000 - 2011 and over 140 people released from death row with evidence of their innocence*. Knowing that all these capital punishment cases have 'stringent' checks and balances, I can only wonder how many miscarriages of justice we would find in examining the Life Without Parole or effectively life without parole sentences. With mandatory minimum sentences, mitigating factors are not taken into consideration prior to either extremely long sentence or LWOP being issued which results in the large number of people dying a very slow death behind the walls.
Arthur Longworth is one of these people, having served 30 years on a LWOP sentence. He recently was recorded at the 2014 Concerned Lifer's Organization Conference speaking on LWOP sentence. He breaks this sentence down dramatically and offers powerful arguments to at the very least make it a capital offense so poor and/or people of color receive the opportunity for better representation and due process. You can find his presentation here.
I'm grateful to have found your site and will look back often.
Sincerely Cindy Anderson
*The stats above were taken from the Death Penalty Information Center.