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Thousands of people in Pennsylvania are sentenced to life without parole—sometimes called death by incarceration.

A study released in September by the Abolitionist Law Center found that Pennsylvania sentences more people per capita to life in prison than any other state in the United States and, indeed, more than any country in the world.Quinn Cozzens and Bret Grote, A Way Out: Abolishing Death by Incarceration in Pennsylvania(Pittsburgh, PA: Abolitionist Law Center, 2018), 16,.

In Pennsylvania, a life sentence means a term of imprisonment to last a person’s natural life; there is no possibility of parole.Quinn Cozzens and Bret Grote, A Way Out: Abolishing Death by Incarceration in Pennsylvania(Pittsburgh, PA: Abolitionist Law Center, 2018), 16, 18. According to the report, more than 5,300 people are serving life-without-parole sentences, the vast majority of which the state imposed mandatorily.Quinn Cozzens and Bret Grote, A Way Out: Abolishing Death by Incarceration in Pennsylvania(Pittsburgh, PA: Abolitionist Law Center, 2018), 16, 18, 16. For noncapital first- and second-degree murder, life in prison is the only available punishment.Katie Meyer, “PA Is an Outlier in Life-Without-Parole. There’s A Growing Push to Change That,” WITF, September 19, 2018. Democratic state senator Sharif Street of Philadelphia sponsored a bill that aimed to change this practice by making people with life sentences eligible for parole after 15 years.Pennsylvania SB 942 (2017). The bill, which was opposed by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, died in committee this year.Pennsylvania SB 942 (2017); Meyer, “PA is an Outlier,” 2018.