LWOP and Virtual Life Sentences in CA

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    According to the Sentencing Project, there are 40,691 people in California prisons who are serving sentences of LWOP or Virtual Life sentences. In CA, people who are sentenced to death are guaranteed legal counsel throughout the entire appeals process (in CA this process pretty much lasts as long as the person in prison is alive). People who aren’t sentenced to death, are pretty much left on their own. They have to somehow navigate the appeals system alone, understand what their legal remedies are, investigate their cases alone from a prison cell, and raise all these issues in the right court in a specific amount of time. Because of this, prosecutors love to trick people into taking plea deals for life sentences, so that they can avoid a death sentence, knowing full well that those people will disappear into the system without the ability to appeal (because they plead). So I guess I have a few questions/topics for discussion. How can we go about getting real proper legal representation for the thousands of people who are serving life sentences? Would doing this get in the way of fighting against excessive sentencing and LWOP, or could fighting excessive sentencing (like life because of three strikes and enhancements) and LWOP as well as fighting for guaranteed legal representation for those already serving that kind of time work hand in hand? Thoughts? Ideas?

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