Life Without Parole - Prisoners are not released early

Over 159,000 people were serving life sentences as of 2012, with just under a third—nearly 50,000—serving life with a chance of parole. 

In 1993 the Times survey found, about 20 percent of all lifers had a chance of parole. By 2004 the number rose to 28 percent.

As a result the United States is now housing a large and permanent population of prisoners who will die of old age behind bars. 

At the Louisiana State Penitentiary, for instance, more than 3,000 of the 5,100 prisoners are serving life with a chance of parole, and most of the remaining 2,100 are serving sentences so long that they cannot be completed in a typical lifetime.