Document Type



This article is adapted from a speech given by the author in honor of Hugo Adams Bedau, inaugurating the Hugo Adam Bedau Memorial Lecture Series at Tufts University. The article explores the differences and substantial similarities of a prisoner being sentenced to death row versus being sentenced to life without parole. The article strongly advocates granting parole eligibility to those with life sentences. It provides several examples detailing why this is so difficult politically, and highlights how Supreme Court rulings in Miller v. Alabama and Graham v. Florida, holding mandatory life without parole as unconstitutional for minors, implicate the same set of issues. The piece ends with a list of systemic reforms that would improve the criminal justice landscape.

Date of Authorship for this Version



death penalty, life without parole, LWOP, sentencing

Original Citation

Michael Meltsner, The Dilemmas of Excessive Sentencing: Death May Be Different But How Different?, 7 Ne. U. L.J., 5 (2015).

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