The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences

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Product Details
$25.99  $24.17
New Press
Publish Date
5.6 X 0.9 X 8.3 inches | 0.75 pounds
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About the Author
Marc Mauer is the executive director of The Sentencing Project, a national organization based in Washington, DC, that promotes criminal justice reform. He is the author of Race to Incarcerate, the co-editor (with Meda Chesney-Lind) of Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. Ashley Nellis is a senior research analyst for The Sentencing Project who has written extensively on the prevalence of life sentences in the United States. She lives in Falls Church, Virginia.

Praise for The Meaning of Life
"An important book."

"A ferociously persuasive case against the use of life sentences. Its arguments are well-organized and honed to a razor's edge, and its policy proposals have a remarkable clarity and thoroughness. At the same time, it never loses sight of the human stakes of the argument and it works hard to persuade readers of its case."
--Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

"An impressive blend of statistical analysis and personal experiences to reveal the story of life sentencing in the U.S. While the figures are alarming and should set off alarms, it is the stories that invoke emotional responses. . . . [T]he degree of detail in this well-titled book makes it an excellent resource and of great value to those seeking a way to effect positive social change."

"Mauer (Race to Incarcerate) and Nellis expose the problematic consequences of life sentencing in this well-argued collaboration. . . . [A] trenchant and urgent book."
--Publishers Weekly

"As with Mauer's Race to Incarcerate, this book is convincingly and meticulously researched while also balanced in its acknowledgement that the issue [of life sentencing] remains complex and highly controversial. Mauer and Nellis not only build a compelling argument for ending life imprisonment; they also provide strategic public-policy groundwork for enacting a maximum 20-year sentence. . . . A riveting, passionate case against lifetime incarceration and a plea for criminal justice reform."
--Kirkus Reviews

"I can think of no authors more qualified to research the complex impact of life sentences than Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis. They have the expertise to track down the information that all citizens need to know and the skills to translate that research into accessible and powerful prose."
--Heather Ann Thompson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Blood in the Water

"Sure to have a profound impact on legislators and everyday citizens across America. The Sentencing Project started working on criminal justice reform long before it became fashionable. Combining impeccable research with smart policy recommendations, their work continues to set the gold standard."
--James Forman Jr., author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Locking Up Our Own

"A blistering indictment of America's practice of sentencing people to die in prison that dares readers to change the way we think about public safety, redemption, and justice. Essential reading for anyone committed to restoring legitimacy to our institutions."
--Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

"The life sentence is the hard core of America's punitive penal complex. Without the kind of bold rethinking that Mauer and Nellis offer, mass incarceration will be inescapable."
--Jonathan Simon, author of Mass Incarceration on Trial

"An argument as persuasive as it is humane."
--Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning

Praise for Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling
"The perfect antidote to the silence in textbooks about the prison-industrial complex in the United States."
--Rethinking Schools

"Sabrina Jones transforms Mauer's history of the criminal justice system into a powerful true crime story--accessible to young readers and people of all ages."

"A searing indictment of divisive policies and empty rhetoric."
--Shelf Awareness

"A perfect tool for educating the young and the non-wonkish about the issues involved and the forces involved in that All-American urge to punish. . . . It is a powerful tool for good. "

"A striking graphic novel. . . . Jones' grim yet lively art accentuates every argument."

"Its political and cultural immediacy makes this an excellent title for adults interested in social issues as well as for college students, teens, and tweens. It also serves as a bridge to Mauer's original edition, since skillful black-and-white visuals from Jones add clarity and vividness to complex issues."
--Library Journal

"Jones channels the tradition of liberal-Left political cartooning to give this graphic documentary a dynamic, woodcut-like look that galvanizes its adaptation. . . . With Jones' inspirational help, this version has plenty of punch. Terrific for current-events teaching, too."

Praise for Marc Mauer's Race to Incarcerate
"An important book. The numbers tell a shocking story."
--San Diego Union-Tribune

"Insightful. . . . Sheds new light on the relationship between drug use, sales, arrests, and race."

"Race to Incarcerate explains why prisoners have become commodities and why present policies are draining black communities of their young men."
--Julian Bond, Chair of the NAACP Board of Directors