Opinion | ‘Life Without Parole Isn’t Making Us Any Safer’

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Featuring Robert Richardson, Sibil Fox Richardson and Freedom Richardson

Robert Richardson was incarcerated for 21 years before being granted clemency. His family’s struggle to have him released was the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Time.”

Video by Mark Boyer, Asaf Kastner and Brian Dawson

Robert Richardson robbed a bank of about $5,000 in 1997 and was sentenced to 60 years in prison without the possibility of probation or parole. He was 30 years old when he was locked away in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, making his penalty a virtual life sentence.

Mr. Richardson doesn’t deny that he did wrong. He concurs with the adage “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

But in the video guest essay above, he contends that life sentences without parole are counterproductive — for the prisoner and society alike — and should be prohibited. He is joined in the video by his wife, Sibil Fox Richardson, whose decades-long effort to secure his release was documented in the film “Time,” and by one of their sons, Freedom.

Mr. Richardson focuses his lobby on Louisiana, one of the states with the most prisoners serving life sentences without parole. Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana has sought to shed the state’s reputation as the nation’s incarceration capital, signing into law a package of criminal justice reform bills intended, in part, to reduce the size of the prison population.

But Mr. Richardson says there’s an urgent need for further reform, and he implores the governor and the state legislature to ban life sentences without parole.

Robert Richardson (@FoxandRob) was incarcerated for 21 years before being granted clemency. His family’s struggle to have him released was the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Time.”

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