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Encyclopedia > Life imprisonment
Criminal procedure
Criminal trials and convictions
Rights of the accused
Fair trial  · Speedy trial  · Jury trial
Counsel  · Presumption of innocence
Exclusionary rule (U.S.)
Self-incrimination  · Double jeopardy
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Not proven (Scot.)  · Directed verdict
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Dangerous offender (Can.)
Capital punishment  · Execution warrant
Cruel and unusual punishment
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Parole  · Probation
Tariff (UK)  · Life licence (UK)
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Portals: Law  · Criminal justice

Life imprisonment or life incarceration is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime, often for most or even all of the criminal's remaining life, but in fact for a period which varies between jurisdictions: many countries have a maximum possible period of time (usually 7 to 50 years) a prisoner may be incarcerated, or require the possibility of parole after a set amount of time. Image File history File links Scale_of_justice_2. ... Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated the criminal law. ... Headline text The rights of the accused is a class of rights in that apply to a person in the time period between when they are formally accused of a crime and when they are either convicted or acquitted. ... The Right to a fair trial is an essential right in all countries respecting the rule of law. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Jury. ... The Right to a fair trial is an essential right in all countries respecting the rule of law. ... Presumption of innocence is a legal right that the accused in criminal trials has in many modern nations. ... In United States constitutional law, the exclusionary rule is a legal principle holding that evidence collected or analyzed in violation of the U.S. Constitution is inadmissible for a criminal prosecution in a court of law (that is, it cannot be used in a criminal trial). ... Self-incrimination is the act of accusing oneself of a crime for which a person can then be prosecuted. ... For other uses, see Double jeopardy (disambiguation). ... In law, a verdict indicates the judgment of a case before a court of law. ... In criminal law, an acquittal is the legal result of a verdict of not guilty, or some similar end of the proceeding that terminates it with prejudice without a verdict of guilty being entered against the accused. ... In law, a conviction is the verdict which results when a court of law finds a defendant guilty of committing a crime. ... Not proven is a verdict available to a court in Scotland. ... In U.S. law, a directed verdict is an order from the judge presiding over a jury trial that one side or the other wins. ... In law, a sentence forms the final act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to his function. ... A mandatory sentence is a judicial decision setting the punishment to be inflicted on a person convicted of a crime where judicial discretion is limited by law. ... A suspended sentence is a legal construct. ... A custodial sentence is a judicial sentence, imposing a punishment (and hence the resulting punishment itself) consisting of mandatory custody of the convict, either in prison (incarceration) or in some other closed therapeutic and/or (re)educational institution, such as a reformatory, (maximum security) psychiatry or drug detoxication (especially cold... In the Canadian legal system, the dangerous offender designation allows the courts to impose an indefinite sentence on a convicted person, regardless of whether the crime carries a life sentence or not. ... Death penalty, death sentence, and execution redirect here. ... An execution warrant is a warrant which authorizes the execution or capital punishment of an individual. ... Cruel And Unusual redirects here. ... It has been suggested that Medical parole be merged into this article or section. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Under British criminal law, a tariff is the minimum period that a person serving an indefinite prison sentence must serve before that person becomes eligible for parole. ... Life licence is a term used in the British criminal justice system for the conditions under which a prisoner sentenced to life in jail may be released. ... A miscarriage of justice is primarily the conviction and punishment of a person for a crime that he or she did not commit. ... Exoneration occurs when a perason waho hars beoen convaicted osf ah crieme irs laeter proved to have been innocent of that crime. ... For the Breton religious festivals, see Pardon (ceremony). ... The term criminal law, sometimes called penal law, refers to any of various bodies of rules in different jurisdictions whose common characteristic is the potential for unique and often severe impositions as punishment for failure to comply. ... The law of evidence governs the use of testimony (e. ... Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the process that courts will follow when hearing cases of a civil nature (a civil action, as opposed to a criminal action). ... In law, a sentence forms the final act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to his function. ... This article is about the institution. ... It has been suggested that Medical parole be merged into this article or section. ...

In almost all jurisdictions without capital punishment, life imprisonment (especially without the possibility of parole) constitutes the most severe form of criminal punishment. Only a small number of jurisdictions have abolished both. Death penalty, death sentence, and execution redirect here. ...


Children and teenagers under 18

Like other areas of criminal law, sentences handed to minors may differ from those given to legal adults. About a dozen countries worldwide allow for minors to be given lifetime sentences that have no provision for eventual release. Of these, only some — South Africa, Israel, Tanzania, and the United States — actually have minors serving such sentences, according to a 2005 joint study by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Although South Africa does allow life imprisonment for children below 18 years of age, it is not without the possibility of release. In terms of parole laws, a person sentenced to life will be eligible for parole after serving 25 years. Of these, the United States has by far the largest number of people serving life sentences for crimes they committed as minors: 9,700, of which 2,200 are without the possibility of parole, as of October 2005. Only 12 other juvenile courts have such sentences in the rest of the world.[1][2] The term criminal law, sometimes called penal law, refers to any of various bodies of rules in different jurisdictions whose common characteristic is the potential for unique and often severe impositions as punishment for failure to comply. ... In law, the term minor (also infant or infancy) is used to refer to a person who is under the age in which one legally assumes adulthood and is legally granted rights afforded to adults in society. ... For the adult insect stage, see Imago. ... Human Rights Watch Banner Human Rights Watch is a United States-based international non-government organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. ... Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Amnesty international Amnesty International (commonly known as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization which defines its mission as to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience...

Interpretation in Europe


Life imprisonment theoretically means imprisonment until the prisoner dies. After 15 years parole is possible, if and when it can be assumed that the inmate will not re-offend. This is subject to the discretion of a criminal court panel, and possible appeal to the high court. Alternatively, the President may grant a pardon upon motion of the Minister of Justice. Prisoners who committed a crime when below the age of 21 can be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years imprisonment. For the Breton religious festivals, see Pardon (ceremony). ...


Life imprisonment theoretically means imprisonment until the prisoner dies. However, a life sentence is assimilated to 30 years imprisonment, to determine when the prisoner will become eligible for parole: he can apply after a third of that sentence has been served, if convicted of a first criminal offence, or after two third if recidivist. Parole has to be granted by a jurisdiction, and the judgement can be appealed. Alternately, release can be postponed, even if the prisoner is eligible for parole, or is at the end of his sentence, if the trial court has added a security period "at the disposal of the government", for no longer than the maximum period set forth by the criminal trial court.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Before Bosnia and Herzegovina became independent in 1992, the maximum time a prisoner was to spend in jail was 20 years. The "life term" has been bumped up to 40 years since independence, however, no prisoner serves more than 10 to 20 years; most of them are pardoned for good behavior. Lesser penalties are given to offenders under the age of 18.


A life sentence theoretically means until death, with no parole. However, prisoners are entitled to a pardoning hearing after 12 years, and upon motion of the minister of justice, the Danish King or Queen may grant a pardon, subject to a 5-year probationary period. Prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment serve an average of 16 years, more for cases considered to be particularly grave. The only example in modern times of an individual serving significantly more than 16 years in prison is Palle Sørensen, who served 33 years for a quadruple police murder. Criminals considered dangerous can be sentenced to indefinite detention, and such prisoners are kept in prison until they are no longer considered dangerous (normally used for mentally ill criminals)). On average they serve 9 years before being released and then they will remain on probation for 5 years. However prisoners eligible for a life sentence are usually not given indefinite detention, as it is considered a lesser sentence than life. For the Breton religious festivals, see Pardon (ceremony). ... Palle Mogens Fogde Sørensen (born March 26, 1927 in Copenhagen, Denmark) in September 1965 while escaping in a stolen car he shot four young police officers in Copenhagen. ...


Life imprisonment means imprisonment until death. It is theoretically possible that the president may grant clemency, allowing possibility of parole; however, it has never happened.


Inmates jailed for life are eligibles for parole after 18 served, or 22 years if the court impose 22 years and for recidivists.[1] [2] Since 1994, for child murder with rape or torture, the Court can impose a term of 30 years or decide that the defendant cannot be paroled [3]. Note: for practices of systematically killing very young children, see infanticide. ...

It possible to give a reduction of this term for serious signs of social readaptation, past 20 years if the terms is to 30 years and past 30 years if the inmate is under decision that he cannot be paroled. [4]

It equally possible to be freed before this terms for serious health reasons. [5]

The life imprisonment is aviable for aggraved murder ; treason ; terrorism ; management of drug trafficking and other serious felonies resulting in death or with torture.[6]

There are an average of 25 sentences of life imprisonment by years (for 1000 murders by years) and 550 inmates jailed for life.

Persons under 18 years old connot be sentenced to life, but, between 16 and 18 years it possible by special decision.


Historically, the President of Finland has been the only person with the power to grant parole to the convicts imprisoned for life (see presidential pardon). Starting on October 1, 2006, this power has also been given to Helsinki Court of Appeal (Helsingin hovioikeus), and is effectively transferred there. A life prisoner is considered for parole after serving 12 years. If the parole is rejected, a new parole hearing is scheduled in 2 years. If the parole is accepted, 3 years of supervised parole follows until full parole, assuming no violations. If the convict was less than 21 years of age when they committed the crime, the first parole hearing is after 10 years served. Life imprisonment cannot be sentenced for a crime that has been committed while the offender was under 18 years of age. The President of Finland is the Head of State of Finland. ... The President of Finland is the Head of State of Finland. ... is the 274th day of the year (275th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The minimum time to be served for a sentence of life imprisonment (Lebenslängliche Freiheitsstrafe) is 15 years, after which the prisoner can apply for parole. The average time a person serving a life sentence has to remain in prison also may depend on the state in which the person is serving the sentence. In the more conservative southern states, such as Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg, the time is significantly longer than in the northern German states. Around 20% of all people serving life imprisonment stay in prison until their natural death.[citation needed] For other uses, see Bavaria (disambiguation). ... Location Coordinates , , Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2) Administration Country NUTS Region DE1 Capital Stuttgart Minister-President Günther Oettinger (CDU) Governing parties CDU / FDP Votes in Bundesrat 6 (of 69) Basic statistics Area  35,752 km² (13,804 sq mi) Population 10,741,000 (11/2006)[1]  - Density...

The German Constitutional Court has found life imprisonment without the mere possibility of parole to be antithetical to human dignity, the most fundamental concept of the present German constitution. That does not mean that every convict has to be released, but that every convict must have a realistic chance for eventual release, provided that he is not considered dangerous any more. Displays of contrition or appeals for mercy must not be made a condition for such a release. There is considerable popular opposition to the application of this ruling in the case of Red Army Faction terrorists. The term dignity is defined as the state of being worthy of honour or respect (The Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary, New York, Clarendon Press, 1991, p. ... Red Army Faction Insignia - a Red Star and a Heckler & Koch MP5 The Red Army Faction or RAF (German Rote Armee Fraktion) (in its early stages commonly known as Baader-Meinhof Group [or Gang]), was one of postwar West Germanys most active and prominent militant left-wing groups. ...

In cases where the convict is found to pose a clear and present danger to society, the sentence may include a provision for "preventive detention" (German: Sicherungsverwahrung) after the actual sentence. This is not considered a punishment but a protection of the public; elements of prison discipline that are not directly security-related will be relaxed for those in preventive detention. The preventive detention is prolonged every two years until it is found that the convict is unlikely to commit further crimes. Preventive detention may last for longer than 10 years, and is used only in exceptional cases. Since 2006, it is possible for preventive detention to be ordered by a court after the original sentencing, if the dangerousness of a criminal becomes obvious only during his imprisonment.

For a person under the age of 18 (or 21, if the person is not considered to be of adult maturity, which is frequently the case) the life sentence is not applicable. The maximum punishment for a youth offendor is 10 years imprisonment.


A "life term" lasts for 25 years, and one can apply for parole in 16 years. If sentenced to more than one life term, a person must serve at least 20 years before being eligible for parole. Other sentences will run concurrently, with 25-year terms being the maximum and with parole possible after three-fifths of this term are served.


A life sentence in Ireland lasts for life. However, not all of the life sentence is generally served in prison custody. The granting of temporary or early release of life sentenced prisoners is a feature of the Irish prison system handled by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

In deciding on the release from prison of a life sentenced prisoner, the Minister will always consider the advice and recommendations of the Parole Board of Ireland. The Board, at present, initially reviews prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment after seven years have been served. Prisoners serving very long sentences, including life sentences, are normally reviewed on a number of occasions over a number of years before any substantial concessions would be recommended by the Board. The final decision as to whether a life sentenced prisoner is released rests solely with the Minister. The length of time spent in custody by offenders serving life sentences can vary substantially. Of those prisoners serving life sentences who have been released, the average sentence served in prison is approximately twelve years. However, this is only an average and there are prisoners serving life sentences in Ireland who have spent in excess of thirty years in custody.


Life imprisonment (ergastolo in Italian) has an indeterminate length. After 10 years (8 in case of good behavior) the prisoner may be given permission to work outside the prison during the day, or to spend up to 45 days a year at home. After 26 (or 21 in case of good behavior) years, they may be paroled. The admission to work outside the jail or to be paroled needs to be approved by a special court (Tribunale di Sorveglianza) which determines whether or not an inmate is suitable for parole. Prisoners sentenced for associations with either mafia activities or terrorism that do not cooperate with law enforcement agencies are not eligible for parole. Under any circumstance, however, the admission to parole in Italy libertà condizionata is not easy. An inmate that has received more than one life sentence has to spend a period from 6 months to 3 years in solitary confinement. In 1994, the Constitutional Court ruled that giving a life sentence to a person under the age of 18 was cruel and unusual. This article is about the criminal society. ... Terrorist redirects here. ... Article 176 of the Italian Penal Code concerns libertà condizionata (English: conditional release, or parole. ...


Since 1878, after the abolition of the death penalty in the Netherlands, life imprisonment has almost always meant exactly that: the prisoner will serve his term in prison until death. The Netherlands is one of the few countries in Europe where prisoners are not granted a review for parole after a given time. Though the prisoner can appeal for parole, it must be granted by Royal Decree. An appeal for parole is almost never successful; since the 1940s, only two people have successfully filed a request for clemency, both being terminally ill. Since 1945, 41 criminals have been sentenced to life imprisonment (excluding war criminals). There has been a noticeable increase of life imprisonment sentences being given in the last decade, more than triple the number of life imprisonment sentences in the last few years than the previous decades. Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is the execution of a convicted criminal by the state as punishment for crimes known as capital crimes or capital offences. ... Motto: Je Maintiendrai (Dutch: Ik zal handhaven, English: I Shall Uphold) Anthem: Wilhelmus van Nassouwe Capital Amsterdam1 Largest city Amsterdam Official language(s) Dutch2 Government Parliamentary democracy Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Beatrix  - Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende Independence Eighty Years War   - Declared July 26, 1581   - Recognised January 30, 1648 (by Spain... A war crime is a punishable offense, under international law, for violations of the law of war by any person or persons, military or civilian. ...


The maximum sentence that can be given is 21 years. It is common to serve two-thirds of this and only a small percentage serve more than 14 years. The prisoner will typically get unsupervised parole for weekends etc after serving 1/3 of the punishment, or 7 years. In extreme cases a sentence called "containment" (Norwegian: forvaring) can be passed. In such a case the subject will not be released unless deemed not to be of danger to society. This sentence is however not regarded as punishment, purely as a form of protection for society, meaning there is no minimum term, and that as long as the protective aspect is fulfilled, the subject can be granted privileges far beyond what is extended to people serving normal prison sentences.


The prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment must serve at least 25 years in order to be eligible for parole. During sentencing, the court may choose to set a higher minimum term than 25 years. Even so, since the introduction of life imprisonment in 1997, the minimum term was never higher than 40 years.[citation needed]


Life imprisonment is limited to a maximum of 25 years, but the vast majority of long-term sentences never exceed 20 years served.


Life imprisonment theoretically means imprisonment until the prisoner dies. After 20 years parole is possible.


After 25 years, a criminal sentenced to life imprisonment may apply to a court for "conditional early relief" (условно-досрочное освобождение) if the prisoner made no serious violations of prison rules in the last 3 years, and did not commit a serious crime during imprisonment. Parole, if granted, may carry restrictions, such as that the subject may not change residence, visit certain locations, and so forth. If the criminal commits a new offense, the court may retract the parole. If the application for parole is declined, a new application can be filed 3 years later.

As life imprisonment was introduced in Russia only in 1996, prisoners will become eligible for parole only since 2021, if no changes in law are made. Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ... 2021 (MMXXI) will be a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The maximum imprisonment term is 40 years. Though a criminal may be condemned for much longer periods of time (such as 1000 years), the term for every charge is served simultaneously. Thus, the maximum time one can spend in jail is equal to the maximum 30. However, these things only happen in case of terrorism, notably involving Basque nationalism. The ETA member Jose Mari Sagarudi is currently the person who has spent most years in prison in the whole of Spain (he has been in prison since 1980). Terrorist redirects here. ... Political Spain in 1854, after the first Carlist War The Arrano beltza (black eagle) flag is waved by radical Basque nationalists, mainly supporters of ETA and HB, along the Ikurriña and the Navarrese flag as a claim of unity of the Basque lands. ... For other uses, see ETA (disambiguation). ...


Life imprisonment is a sentence of indeterminate length. Swedish law states that the most severe punishment is "prison for ten years or life", and so life imprisonment is in practice never shorter than ten years. However, a prisoner may apply to the government for clemency, in practice having his life sentence commuted to a set number of years, which then follows standard Swedish parole regulations. Clemency can also be granted on humanitarian grounds. The number of granted clemencies per year has been low since 1991, usually no more than one or two. Until 1991 few served more than 15 years, but since then the time spent in prison has increased and today (2007) the usual time is at least 20-22 years. Offenders under the age of 21 when the crime was committed can not be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Increased criticism from prison authorities, prisoners and victims led to a revision of practices and in 2006 a new law was passed that also gave a prisoner the right to apply for a determined sentence at the Örebro Lower Court. A prisoner has to serve a minimum of 10 years in prison before applying and the set sentence can not be under 18 years, the maximum sentence allowed under Swedish law (10 years plus 4 years if one is a repeat offender and 4 years if the sentence contains other serious crimes). When granting a set sentence the court takes into account the crime, the prisoner's behaviour in prison, public safety and the chance of rehabilitation. However, some prisoners may never be released, being considered too dangerous. Of those who have been given set sentences under the new law, the sentences have ranged between 25 and 32 years.

The person currently having served for the longest time is Leif Axmyr, who in 1982 killed the stepson of the then Minister of finance and the stepson's fiancée, Axmyr's former girlfriend. He has spent over 25 years in prison. At present (2008) there are about 170 people, including four women, serving life sentences in Swedish prisons. All are convicted of murder or conspiracy to commit murder. The Swedish Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that ten years in prison should overrule life imprisonment as the "main option" for people who have committed murder. At present (2008) this is under review by the Swedish parliament and it is expected that the "main option" for murder will be a much longer sentence (16-20 years), although life in prison remains an option. The finance minister is a cabinet position in a government. ...


Life imprisonment generally carries an option for parole, though the time varies depending on the sentence. For crimes prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws, however, there exists "strict life imprisonment", which essentially amounts to life imprisonment without parole: such prisoners will serve their term until their death.

United Kingdom

A life sentence is a prison term of indeterminate length and in some exceptionally grave cases, a recommendation can be made that a life sentence should mean life. Formerly, the Home Secretary reserved the right to set the "tariff", or minimum length of term, for prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment, but politicians were stripped of this power in November 2002 after a successful challenge by convicted double murderer Anthony Anderson. Anderson had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 1988 with a recommended minimum term of 15 years, but the Home Secretary later informed him that he would have to serve at least 20 years. The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the United Kingdom Home Office and is responsible for internal affairs in England and Wales, and for immigration and citizenship for the whole United Kingdom (including Scotland and Northern Ireland). ... Anthony Anderson is a British murderer. ...

Since then, judges have been obliged to recommend a minimum term and only the Court of Appeal or the House of Lords Judicial Committee can make any amendments to the sentence. Though politicians can no longer decide how long a life sentence prisoner spends behind bars, the Attorney General still has the power to petition the Court of Appeal in a bid to increase any prison terms which are seen as unduly lenient. Court of Appeals is the title of certain appellate courts in various jurisdictions. ... The House of Lords, in addition to having a legislative function, has a judicial function as a court of last resort within the United Kingdom. ... In most common law jurisdictions, the Attorney General is the main legal adviser to the government, and in some jurisdictions may in addition have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions. ...

The Criminal Justice Act of 2003 set out guidelines for how long murderers should spend in prison before being considered for parole. This legislation highlighted the recommendation that multiple murderers (the murder of two or more people) whose crimes involved sexual abuse, pre-planning, abduction or terrorism should never be released from prison, which is known as a whole life tariff, while other multiple murders (two or more) should carry a recommended minimum of 30 years. A 30-year minimum should also apply to the worst single murders, including those with sexual or racial motives, the use of a firearm as well as the murder of police officers. Most other murders should be subject to a 15-year minimum. Inevitably, there have been numerous departures from these guidelines since they were first put into practice. For example, the judge who sentenced police killer David Bieber recommended that he should never be released from prison, whereas government guidelines recommended a 30-year minimum for such crimes. He is currently awaiting the outcome of an appeal to get his sentence reduced. And in the case of Mark Goldstraw, who killed four people in an arson attack on a house in Staffordshire, the trial judge set a recommended minimum of 35 years - as the crime included planning and resulted in the deaths of four people, it might have been expected to come under a category of killings which merited a whole life tariff. The whole life tariff is a mechanism in British law whereby a prisoner is sentenced to remain in prison until death. ... Police released this photograph in the search for Bieber David Bieber (born 3 February 1966) also known under the alias Nathan Wayne Coleman is a American convicted murderer. ... Mark Goldstraw (b. ... Staffordshire (abbreviated Staffs) is a landlocked county in the West Midlands region of England. ...

Whole life tariffs were introduced by the Thatcher government in 1983, and in that time approximately 30 life sentence prisoners have been told by various authorities that their sentences must mean life. These include Rosemary West, Myra Hindley, Ian Brady, Donald Neilson, Dennis Nilsen, Roy Whiting and Mark Hobson, Steve Wright[3] (the so called "Suffolk Strangler"[4]), and most recently Levi Bellfield[5]. Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS (née Roberts; born 13 October 1925) served as British Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990 and leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 until 1990, being the first and only woman to hold either post. ... For the Jimi Hendrix song, see 1983. ... Rosemary Pauline West (born November 29, 1953 as Rosemary Letts) is an English serial killer, now an inmate at HMP Bronzefield, Ashford, Middlesex. ... Mug shots of Myra Hindley (left) and her partner Ian Brady at the time of their arrest in October 1965. ... Mug shots of Ian Brady (right) and his partner Myra Hindley at the time of their arrest in October 1965. ... Donald Neilson (born Donald Nappey on August 1, 1936, nicknamed the Black Panther) was a jobbing builder who turned to crime when his business failed to make money—and became a murderer, kidnapper and Britains most wanted man. ... This article includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... Roy Whiting Roy Whiting was born in Horsham, West Sussex, on 26 January 1959. ... Mark Hobson, born 1969, is a British murderer who killed his ex-girlfriend and her twin sister in 2004 before killing an elderly couple who lived nearby. ... Levi Bellfield, a 38-year-old man from West Drayton, West London, was charged with the murders of two women and the attempted murders of two other women between 2001 and 2005. ...

The average sentence is about 15 years before the first parole hearing, although those convicted of exceptionally grave crimes remain behind bars for considerably longer; Ian Huntley was given a tariff of 40 years. Some receive whole life tariffs and die in prison, such as Myra Hindley and Harold Shipman. Various media sources estimate that there are currently between 35 and 50 prisoners in England and Wales who have been issued with whole life tariffs. Ian Kevin Huntley (born 31 January 1974 in Grimsby, England) is a former school caretaker, who in 2003 was convicted of murdering two schoolgirls - Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman - in the case known as the Soham murders. ... Mug shots of Myra Hindley (left) and her partner Ian Brady at the time of their arrest in October 1965. ... Harold Frederick Fred Shipman (January 14, 1946 – January 13, 2004) was an English general practitioner who was one of the most prolific known serial killers in modern history. ...

Reggie Kray was serving a whole life sentence but was released on compassionate grounds in August 2000, as he was 67 years old, suffering from terminal cancer and had spent over 30 years behind bars. He died just five weeks after being paroled. Prisoners jailed for life are released on a life licence if the parole board authorises their release. The prisoner must satisfy the parole board that they are remorseful, understand the gravity of their crime and pose no future threat to the public. They are subject to lifelong recall to prison should they breach their parole conditions. Ronald Kray (1933 - 1995) and Reginald Kray (1933 - 2000) were twin brothers, and the foremost organised crime leaders in London in the 1960s. ... Life licence is a term used in the British criminal justice system for the conditions under which a prisoner sentenced to life in jail may be released. ... A Parole Board is a panel of people who decide whether a criminal should be allowed to be released from prison following him or her serving the minimum term of their sentence. ...

European Court of Human Rights review on lifelong imprisonment

In February 2007, the European Court of Human Rights announced a review on whole life sentences on the grounds that such sentences amount to a violation of human rights. The review has yet to be completed. The Court of Appeal (UK) is awaiting the outcome of this review before it rules on the legality of life-long imprisonment in David Bieber's appeal. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), often referred to informally as the Strasbourg Court, was created to systematise the hearing of human rights complaints against States Parties to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by...

Interpretation in North America


Life imprisonment means that the offender will be under supervision, whether in prison or in the community, for the rest of their life. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 25 years, but this number can range from only a few years up to the maximum. There is no guarantee that parole will be granted if the National Parole Board determines that the offender still poses a risk to society. At the present time, the so-called Faint-Hope Clause, which specifies those serving a life term have a chance to apply for parole after 15 years, as opposed to the maximum of 25, is still in force. However, the new Conservative Government, elected to a minority in January 2006, has pledged to repeal the Faint-Hope Clause. Moreover, the courts may apply a dangerous offender designation, which is in fact an indeterminate sentence: no minimum and no maximum, but parole review occurs every seven years. Current sentencing guidelines, provided by the legislative leaders to judges of all levels on an annual basis, ensure that both a "life" sentence and the "dangerous offender" designation are very rarely used, even when the offender is found guilty for particularly grievous offences. Second degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole for between ten and twenty-five years; first degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole for twenty-five years. In Canada, the so-called Faint-Hope Clause (Section 745. ... In the Canadian legal system, the dangerous offender designation allows the courts to impose an indefinite sentence on a convicted person, regardless of whether the crime carries a life sentence or not. ...


Life imprisonment is defined as any long and determinate sentence ranging from 20 years up to a maximum of 40 years. The Mexican Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional because it is cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of Article 18 of the Constitution of Mexico. Subsequently, many American criminals were alleged to have fled to Mexico specifically because they know Mexico will not typically extradite them to any U.S. state (or any country) where the maximum sentence imposable exceeds what is permissible under Mexican law.[citation needed] The difference between the American and Mexican views of life imprisonment caused high levels of friction in cross-border politics until further judgments by the Mexican Supreme Court reopened the possibility of extradition.[6] The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, or SCJN) is the highest federal court in the United Mexican States. ... This article is about the current Political Constitution of the United Mexican States. ... Extradition is the official process by which one nation or state requests and obtains from another nation or state the surrender of a suspected or convicted criminal. ...

United States

Determinate and Indeterminate Life Sentence

Further information: Life Imprisonment without Parole (LWOP)

In contrast to that, there are also many states where a convict can be released on parole after a decade or more has passed. For example, sentences of "15 years to life" or "25 years to life" may be given; this is called an "indeterminate life sentence", while a sentence of "life without the possibility of parole" is called a "determinate life sentence". Even when a sentence specifically denies the possibility of parole, government officials may have the power to grant amnesty or reprieves, or commute a sentence to time served. Under the federal criminal code, however, with respect to offenses committed after December 1, 1987, parole has been abolished for all sentences handed down by the federal system, including life sentences, so a life sentence from a federal court will result in imprisonment for the life of the defendant, unless a pardon or reprieve is granted by the President. Look up Amnesty in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Commutation of sentence involves the reduction of legal penalties, especially of terms of imprisonment. ... is the 335th day of the year (336th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the year 1987. ... Map of the boundaries of the United States Courts of Appeals and United States District Courts The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. ... A pardon is the forgiveness of a crime and the penalty associated with it. ... Federal courts Supreme Court Circuit Courts of Appeal District Courts Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures (List) State Courts Local Government Other countries Atlas  US Government Portal      For other uses, see President of the United States (disambiguation). ...

Three Strikes Law

Further information: three-strikes law

Under some "three-strikes laws", a broad range of crimes, ranging from petty theft to murder, can serve as the triggering crime for a mandatory or discretionary life sentence in California. Notably, the U.S. Supreme Court on several occasions has upheld lengthy sentences for petty theft including life with the possibility of parole and 50 years to life, stating that neither sentence conflicted with the ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[7] Three strikes laws are a category of statutes enacted by state governments in the United States, beginning in the 1990s, to mandate long periods of imprisonment for persons convicted of a felony on three (or more) separate occasions. ... Three strikes laws are a category of statutes enacted by state governments in the United States, beginning in the 1990s, to mandate long periods of imprisonment for persons convicted of a felony on three (or more) separate occasions. ... The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C., (large image) The Supreme Court of the United States, located in Washington, D.C., is the highest court (see supreme court) in the United States; that is, it has ultimate judicial authority within the United States... Cruel And Unusual redirects here. ... Amendment VIII (the Eighth Amendment) of the United States Constitution, which is part of the U.S. Bill of Rights, prohibits excessive bail or fines, as well as cruel and unusual punishment. ...

Interpretation in Asia/Pacific


For serious crimes, the State Supreme Courts may sentence criminals to a life sentence, usually with a minimum term before parole is available. This is dependent on the individual states and territories. New South Wales follows the definition of 'life means life'[8] - so the maximum sentence is life without parole in NSW. In Victoria a person can be given a life sentence with or without parole. A LWOP sentence was introduced to Victoria as a result of the Peter Dupas case. Currently nine people are serving life without parole in Victoria. Hoddle St killer Julian Knight is serving life with a minimum of 27 years as Victoria had no LWOP sentence when he was sentenced and also the fact he was 19 at the time and therefore classed as a young offender. Notorious prisoners such as Ivan Milat (New South Wales), Peter Dupas (Victoria) and Martin Bryant (Tasmania) are currently serving LWOP. The federal government only pursues cases involving life terms where the states cannot do so. NSW redirects here. ... Peter Norris Dupas Peter Norris Dupas (b. ... Julian Knight (born March 4, 1968) is the mass murderer who on August 9, 1987, shot dead 7 people and injured 19 during a shooting spree in Clifton Hill, Victoria, in what became known in Australian history as the Hoddle Street Massacre. ... Ivan Robert Marko Milat (born December 27, 1944 in Guildford, New South Wales) is an Australian serial killer,originaly from Croatia, convicted of seven murders of international hitchhikers during the 1980s and 1990s. ... Peter Norris Dupas Peter Norris Dupas (b. ... Martin John Bryant (born 7 May 1967) murdered 35 people and injured 37 others in the Port Arthur massacre, a killing spree in Tasmania in 1996. ...


In India life imprisonment [umar quaid] used to be widely understood as one lasting 14 – 20 years. [9] However recent rulings by the Indian Supreme Court, on a case against Jahid hussain in the state of West Bengal who held a life convict for a period of 21 years in prison, reaffirmed that life imprisonment should be treated as imprisonment of the convict for the remainder of his natural life [10][11] until the government exercises its discretion to reduce the life term of the convict considering his good behaviour. The supreme court is the apex court in India and is the court of final appeal for all legal matters. ... , West Bengal (Bengali: পশ্চিমবঙ্গ Poshchimbôŋgo) is a state in eastern India. ...


At least 5 years imprisonment, although it generally ranges from 10 to 20 years.


A life sentence (muki choueki) is the second most severe punishment available, second only to the death penalty. Consisting of life sentence with the option of parole, a prisoner given a life sentence must spend at least 10 years in prison before they may have a chance at parole. But over the years the time spent in prison has become longer, and in 2005 was about 27 years. In addition, all prisoners have served at least 20 years.[12][13] According to the survey by Center for Prisoners' Rights in Japan, in 2000 there were 2 prisoners who had served over 50 years without parole.[14] Ikuo Hayashi and Daisuke Mori are currently serving life imprisonment. Though Japan has the death penalty, incarceration in Japan is typically short. Even serious assault and rape convictions might result in a suspended sentence if it is the first offense. Similarly, even second-degree murder might be given only 5 – 7 years, usually paroled in 3 – 5 years if there was no previous conviction.[citation needed] The rate of re-offending for most released prisoners is low, and the popularity of the death sentence is generally attributed to retribution. Those who are against the death penalty are calling for alternative longer sentences, with more than 10 years before being able to get parole, or shushin kei (an actual life sentence with no possibility of parole). Most Japanese tend to recognize that "life sentence" indicates only "life sentence with no possibility of parole" so that many mistakenly believe that "muki-choeki" is not equivalent to "life sentence" and Japanese punitive law does not allow "life sentence" as other developed countries' do.[citation needed] Although "muki-choeki" in Japanese is often interpreted as "indefinite sentence", "muki-choeki" has legally the same meaning as "life sentence". The reasons why it is often wrongly interpreted are following. As a strange exception, upon the death of the emperor a life sentence is often reduced. Ikuo Hayashi (æž— 郁夫 Hayashi Ikuo, born January 23, 1947) is a former AUM Shinrikyo member indicted for participation in the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. ...


There are two types of life imprisonment in Malaysia – "imprisonment for life" and "imprisonment for natural life". Imprisonment for life means imprisonment for 20 years with allowance for a one-third deduction for good behaviour. Imprisonment for natural life means imprisonment until death. In respect of a child guilty of a capital offence, a provision in the Child Act 2001 allows a child to be "detained at the pleasure of the [King]". This contained no specific indication for the length of time the child is to be detained. Thus, in July 2007, the Court of Appeal ruled that such a sentence was unconstitutional.[15] However, the Federal Court overturned the Court of Appeal decision in October 2007.[16] Death penalty, death sentence, and execution redirect here. ... The Sultan Abdul Samad Building, as were surrounding colonial buildings near the Merdeka Square, had formerly housed all of the countrys judicial branches for decades. ... The Sultan Abdul Samad Building, as were surrounding colonial buildings near the Merdeka Square, had formerly housed all of the countrys judicial branches for decades. ...

New Zealand

A life sentence is an indeterminate sentence given automatically for murder and treason, and is the maximum sentence for manslaughter and Class A drug-dealing. In reality it is unheard of for a prisoner to die of old age in prison, as most are paroled. The default non-parole period for murder is 10 years, though in cases of particular violence the starting point is 17 years. The sentencing judge may demand a longer non-parole period, and as of 2006 the longest non-parole period handed down was 33 years, in 2003 to William Dwane Bell. William Dwane Bell (1978) is a New Zealand murderer. ...

In the early hours of December 8, 2001, Bell entered the Panmure RSA clubrooms, where he had been fired from a job as a bartender three months earlier. After entering the building he brutally killed the club president, a club member and an employee. He also seriously injured another club employee.For committing the killings Bell was handed a 30 year non-parole prison sentence at Paremoremo Prison - the longest non-parole sentence ever passed in New Zealand. Bell was initially jailed for a minimum non-parole period of 33 years, which was reduced by three years on appeal.

New Zealand also has an indefinite sentence of preventive detention, which is handed out for crimes other than treason or murder/manslaughter. Traditionally handed down to repeat sexual offenders, in 2002 the criteria were extended to included serious recidivist offenders of a non-sexual, but violent, nature. Preventive detention has a minimum non-parole period of five years, and the sentencing judge may extend this if they believe that the offender's history warrants it. Parole under New Zealand law is no longer automatic, and it is theoretically possible for defendants sentenced to life or to preventive detention to remain in prison for the rest of their natural life, though it remains rare. Preventive detention is a system in which the citizens of a country can be arrested without being told the grounds for the arrest. ... Recidivism is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been treated or trained to extinguish that behavior. ...


Life imprisonment(無期徒刑 in Taiwanese) theoretically means imprisonment until the prisoner dies. After 25 years parole is possible. See alternative meanings for other possible definitions. ...


Life imprisonment means, in principle, that the prisoner will spend the rest of their life in prison. However, after 20 to 30 years, they may be granted amnesty.

Interpretation in Africa

South Africa

Life sentence is mandatory for premeditated murder, gang rape, serial rapist or if the rapist knew his HIV status to be positive. Life sentence is also mandatory if the victim was under 16 or mentally disabled. In certain circumstances, robberies and hijackings also carry a mandatory life sentence.
But Section 51 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1977[17] controls the minimum sentences for 'other' types of murders, rapes and robberies to 25, 15 and 10 years respectively, so parole is almost always granted to life sentences after the minimum sentence for the lesser crime has been served. Premeditated murder is the crime of wrongfully causing the death of another human being (also known as homicide) after rationally considering the timing or method of doing so, in order to either increase the likelihood of success, or to evade detection or apprehension. ... For the domesticated crop plant called rape, see rapeseed. ... Species Human immunodeficiency virus 1 Human immunodeficiency virus 2 Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS, a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections). ... Robbery is the crime of seizing property through violence or intimidation. ... Categories: Wikipedia cleanup | Stub | Crimes | Terrorism | IT ...


  1. ^ "The Rest of Their Lives: Life without Parole for Child Offenders in the United States", 2005. ISBN 1-56432-335-8. Summary: "United States: Thousands of Children Sentenced to Life without Parole". Human Rights Watch, October 12, 2005.
  2. ^ Liptak, Adam (2005). "Jailed for life after crimes as teenagers". The New York Times. October 3.
  3. ^ "Suffolk killer will die in prison", BBC News, BBC, 2008-02-22. 
  4. ^ "Police hunt for Suffolk strangler", East Anglian Daily Times, 2006-12-12. Retrieved on 2006-12-13. 
  5. ^ "Bellfield given 'whole life' term", BBC News, BBC, 2008-02-26. 
  6. ^ For details of new rulings from Mexican Supreme Court, see: "Wanted Fugitive Raul Gomez Garcia Extradited to the U.S." (US Embassy in Mexico) and Mexico alters extradition rules (BBC News))
  7. ^ See Rummel v. Estelle, 445 U.S. 263 (1980) (upholding life sentence for fraudulent use of a credit card to obtain $80 worth of goods or services, passing a forged check in the amount of $28.36, and obtaining $120.75 by false pretenses) and Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003) (upholding sentence of 50 years to life for stealing videotapes on two separate occasions after three prior offenses)
  8. ^ http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/ca195882/s19.html
  9. ^ http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=54882
  10. ^ http://www.hindu.com/op/2005/10/09/stories/2005100901211400.htm
  11. ^ http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=54882
  12. ^ http://www.geocities.jp/y_20_06/japanese_life-sentence00.html
  13. ^ http://www.geocities.jp/y_20_06/mukikei-1990.html
  14. ^ http://www.geocities.jp/y_20_06/mukikei-over40.html
  15. ^ "Court: No choice but to free teen", The Star, July 26, 2007.
  16. ^ Federal Court throws teen back in jail for murder, AsiaOne News, October 24, 2007
  17. ^ Section 51 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1977

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External links

  Results from FactBites:
iCorrection.com -- Life imprisonment (1286 words)
Life imprisonment is a term used for a particular kind of sentence of imprisonment.
In Finland, life imprisonment is a sentence of theoretically indeterminate length.
In Sweden, life imprisonment is a sentence of indeterminate length.
life imprisonment: Information from Answers.com (3164 words)
In Denmark, a life sentence theoretically means until death and the prisoner is not eligible for parole, however he is entitled to a pardoning hearing after 12 years and upon motion of the minister of justice, the Danish Queen may grant a pardon, on condition of a 5 years probation.
In Canada, life imprisonment means that the offender will be under supervision, whether in prison or in the community, for the rest of his or her life.
Life imprisonment often lasts until the prisoner dies, especially in cases where life imprisonment is imposed as alternative to the death penalty.
  More results at FactBites »



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