Life without parole in our prisons is a reflection of the inhumanity that is in all of us.

LWOP is designed to be harsh and final; less than 1% overturn this sentence. This is a punishment that lacks compassion and says more about the hate, resentment and darkness in society than it does about the person serving the sentence.

Until we acknowledge that we are using hate to fight hate, we will always have crime. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

The prison population is mostly made up of those who suffer from trauma, addiction, mental illness, PTSD, and other hardships such as poverty, lack of education, lack of employment, and improper medical care. These are people who need help to heal, not to die within prison. With treatment many will recover and be able to safely return to society.

The sentence of LWOP is based in hate toward people, and shows that our belief in change is hopeless. States that don’t offer parole to all are run by the cold-hearted and inhumane. The lack of compassion and mercy that comes with LWOP shows that the darkness within people that causes crime is also within those who choose the punishment and the people who support it.

I choose love, even for those who may not deserve it.

Parole does not mean everyone goes free; it means that we acknowledge that some people can go against all the odds to grow and change.

Cecilia MacMillan, New Gloucester

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