LWOP is a death sentence: Give Stanley Bernard Davis a chance for parole!

In the past few years, events bringing formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones to Sacramento to rally and lobby their governor and legislators have become common and very influential. Here, women with the California Coalition of Women Prisoners (CCWP) pose outside the office of Gov. Jerry Brown on Aug. 6, 2018, where they delivered a letter signed by 100 organizations calling on him to commute all 5,000 LWOP sentences in California. – Photo: Pam Fadem

by Drop LWOP Coalition

On Sept. 1, 2021, Stanley Bernard Davis, a Black man who was sentenced to the death penalty in 1989, was resentenced to Life Without Parole (LWOP). Prosecutors in the L.A. District Attorney’s Office accepted a habeas corpus petition from Mr. Davis which demonstrated that he had an intellectual disability and therefore was legally ineligible for the death penalty.

An LWOP sentence is just another form of the death penalty, condemning Mr. Davis to death by incarceration. The same criteria that disqualify Mr. Davis for the death penalty should be applicable to his LWOP sentence. After serving over three decades in prison and finally demonstrating that his sentence was faulty, Mr. Davis should be given a chance to appear before the Parole Board so that they can determine his eligibility for parole.

Stanley Bernard Davis

The Los Angeles D.A.’s office opposes the death penalty because of its racial bias. The racism of LWOP sentencing is even more stark than that of the death penalty. Sixty-eight percent of those serving LWOP in California are Black and Latinx. Sixty-two percent of those sentenced to LWOP are younger than 25. 

Mr. Davis was 23 when he committed his offense. LWOP sentences reflect a tough-on-crime culture that was rampant in the 1980s and 1990s. Such extreme sentences have no place in a 21st century society that is trying to move away from mass incarceration.

When death sentences are overturned, LWOP resentencing should not be the default. Stanley Bernard Davis’ claim of an intellectual disability has been vindicated after over 30 years of wasted litigation on the part of the state of California. 

Mr. Davis should not have to spend the rest of his life in prison without a chance to demonstrate his rehabilitation. He should be given a life with the possibility of parole sentence and the chance to go to the Parole Board!

The Drop LWOP Coalition can be reached at 916-402-4968 or droplwopcampaign@gmail.com.