One in nine U.S. prisoners is serving a life sentence, according to a new report from the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group.
About 160,000 prisoners are currently serving life sentences, according to the report; four times as many as there were 30 years ago.
The nationwide population of prisoners service serving life without parole is currently about 49,000, a 22% increase since 2008.
California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania account for more than half the national population of inmates serving life sentences, according to the report.
Nearly half of those serving life sentences are African-American and one in six are Latino.
Researchers note that the rise in life sentences has come amidst a long-term drop in serious crime and a modest decline in overall prison populations.
The report's authors recommend the elimination of life sentences without the possibility of parole, the increased of clemency, the preparation of all life-sentenced prisoners for release and a restoration of “the role of parole as a mechanism to balance public safety concerns and the capacity for change.”
Read the report HERE.