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What does life in prison mean?
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What does life in prison mean?

This doesn't make any sense to me: A Georgia man gave the middle finger to a judge who sentenced him to life in prison plus 40 years for the shooting death of a Savannah debutante during a botched robbery. What's the point of giving 40 extra years? Does life in prison mean a certain amount of years or does it mean he stays in prison until he dies and the 40 extra years is just a 'f*ck you' addition to the sentence?


hey hows it goin
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime, the length of which varies between jurisdictions; many countries have a maximum possible period of time a prisoner may be incarcerated, or require the possibility of parole after a set amount of time.

The definition varies from one U.S. state to another. Life imprisonment often lasts until the prisoner dies, especially in cases where life imprisonment is imposed as alternative to the death penalty. It is also usual that life terms are given in sentences that are intentionally longer than how long the prisoner is expected to live, e.g. a 200-year sentence for multiple counts of murder. 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. A broad range of crimes can serve as the predicate act for a life sentence in the United States, ranging from petty theft to murder. 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; neither conflicts with the ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution because they are not torture.

They usually do the extra time to insure there is no chance of the person getting out on parole, period, amen.

Mickey Mouse Spears
It varies from state to state, but usually a life sentence means for the rest of your natural life. The additional 40 years would be pointless, but in case one conviction is overturned, there is still a 40 year sentence that has not been. Then you have the judges "f*** you," which is also a factor sometimes.

Roger N
I believe "Life in prison" is 25 years and it's harder to get parole and good behavior.
The +40 is separate than the "Life" sentance so it has to go thru a separate process to get shortened.

john_mixer9.... I'll try to answer this for you, but I'm not sure your feeble brain will be able to comprehend.

A life sentence, has two possibilities: Life wih a chance of parole OR Life without chance of parole. This anti-social pariah, who brutally murdered a helpless woman, was sentenced to life, but with a chance of parole in 20 or 30 years. By tacking on the extra 40 years, the judge insured that this guy, regardless of when he came up for a parole hearing would have to serve that additional 40 years.

The fact that this guy gave the judge the finger, had nothing to do with the extra 40 years. The judge wanted to make certain that this guy never again saw the outside of a prison again. So it was not just an additional ***** you.... or was it?

Kevin C
A life sentence could mean 20, 25, or 30 years depending on the jusrisdiction. However once you walk into prison they start deducting time for good behavior. A sentence of life that meant 25 could mean you would be out in 18 with good time deducted. The judge probably threw the 40 years on top, knowing that if they were concurrent sentences that the bad guy will never see the outside.

By the way...all bets are off if you get sentenced federally. They have mandatory minimums so you serve what you are sentenced! NO good time.

Mr. Yammaha
He's getting time for both crimes.

The +40 years is a way to tell him he's going to die in prison.

With Tony Blair in charge over here? 20 years at the most.
Texas? Electric chair. And they wonder why the prisons are overcrowding.
life should mean life! You kill someone out of hatred or simple idocy, you should be shot.

It depends if it was life in prison with the chance of parole or not. If he had a chance of parole, then just when he will be able to go....he has to serve another 40 years.

basically he spends his life forever in jail.

probably if he is reincarnated, hes new life will have to do the extra 40 yrs.....lol

its a F*ck you thing pretty much

Okay, for starters the whole set of sentencing laws is a little complicated...you know lawyers are involved so they have to make it complicated so the average cannot possibly understand any of it and you HAVE to HIRE a lawyer to anything significant in the legal system. Now that I'm off my soapbox, here's some insight....at least in Georgia.

When someone is sentenced to life (or any sentence for that matter) the sentence can later be reviewed by the Parole Board. The Parole Board does not answer to the judge, it's a state entity and answers to the governor. As a result of this a "life" sentence was seldom really life behind bars. (Side note: The national average for years served of a life sentence was 7 years in the early 1990s, in Georgia it was 13 years...more on this later.)

The thinking is that after a number of years in prison, the person is not likely to re-offend and could be released on parole and closely supervised (note this is NOT the same as probation, probation is a sentence given by a judge not the state parole board). Parole and probation are similar in how they supervise and handle their people. In Georgia parole officers tend to be better trained whereas probation officers are treated like the red-headed stepchildren of the Department of Corrections (which is mostly concerned with prison bed space).

Okay...so now that you have a basic understanding of how someone sentenced to life might not be in jail their whole life, we can move on to the forty years thing. Back in the mid 1990s there was movement in several states to pass "truth in sentencing" laws which required people convicted to certain crimes (violent ones) to serve the majority of their sentence...this was to preven the parole board from letting these people out too early (in the minds of the voters). Most states went with 85% required to serve, Georgia went with 90% of the sentence. So, what is 90% of life??? Hard to calculate right? So the forty years tacked on helps to ensure the guy stays behind bars a bit longer...assuming that the 40 years was related to one of the "seven deadly sins" under Georgia Law that requires the guilty to serve 90%, he'll have to do 36 of those 40 years. Not to mention it was most likely for a charge other than the murder.

They guy is lucky he didn't get the death penalty because he committed a murder during the commission of a felony, which would make him eligible under Georgia law.

Hope he enjoys being a "pillow biter" in the joint.

Odessa R
means no chance of parole period his ghost is sentenced to haunt the prison for 40 years after the guy dies !

Probably just a f*ck you statement... just to eff with his mind... it'll take his whole life to figure out what the hell the judge meant, so the judge decided to add 40 extra years to think about it.

Actually, a life sentence (in the term of years) varies from state to state and even varies with the actual charge the person was convicted of. The the additional variables are if the life sentence was issued on state or federal charges.

Then there is the life sentence "without the possibility of parole"

This guy is going to spend the next 20 years appealing his sentence. I wouldn't doubt that the fact the judge tacked on the additional 40 years will somehow be used as a reason to re-try the case.

yes I don't get it either. when a judge give 2 back to back life sentences.

Life in prison only means true life in prison in some states. Louisiana, for example, has life in prison with no possibility of parole. Most states have possible parole for lifers.

However, depending on the charges, additional time may be tacked on - he could have Life for the murder, and the 40 years for armed robbery; it's all up to the judge.

<保護者> Yagami /// CRYBo7
Yeah it's just to make his life a living hell in preson & who ever kill someone shall deserv this.

If the life sentence gets overturned, he will still have to serve the 40 years. Seems like a good added protection to me. Of course, if both charges get overturned then he is, rightly, going to get released.

life in prison varies from country to country and state to state, generally 1 life sentence means 20-30yrs in jail, with most places parole is only possible after a minimum of 15yrs and every 5 yrs there'll be a review of the possibility of parole.

if the sentence was passed as 'without the possibility of parole', thats it, u're stuck in there for life indefinitely, with a very very slim chance of parole based on good conduct after like.....30yrs? it depends.

i still prefer the death penalty over 2 life sentences or multiple charges amounting to over 200yrs in prison. saves the taxpayers money too.

David B
depends on the state law. if they dont have "life means life" then life might mean eligible for parole after x years. so you tack on something to make that not happen

to tell ya the truth...........
Dr Sponge sure knows his stuff!
I was inclined to give him 2 thumbs up but they wouldn't let me!
I always thot "life" meant stay in prison until you rot to death but that would be cruel and unusual....no matter what he did to his family.or in this case a DEB.
Now a different branch of our Government thinks its funny to walk a prisoner of war....(a 19 year old boy fighting for what HE thinks is right) like a dog on a leash ....naked. and humiliated. and then there was the well intentioned journalist who thot it would be best if if was put on the front page of every newspaper in America.
I could go on but I am sure you are getting the picture.
Who decides what happens in this country.......we do, us voters.
If we don't like what our judge says we get to kick him out.!!!
and if you are impeached as a judge........you will never make it to the presidency our votes do count. right at the beginnings of their careers.....oh ,oh I think I trailed off subject.......or did I ??

The sentence of life in prison was for the murder, I would imagine. The extra sentence is for the other crime that was committed. If someone is found guilty of multiple crimes, they get multiple sentences.

It means that you are the person you are talking about could face up to there hole life in prison. Depending on the charge, the may be able to get puro.

true.. what u say makes no sense but it is likely u got it wrong. it probably said "life" and not "life in prison" . if this is true then life does not neccessarily mean a custodial sentence (in prison) for the rest of his life NOR DOES IT MEAN ANY OTHER NUMBER OF YEARS. he may be let out on probation ( where if he breaks the law in any way he is jailed for the rest of his life) the 40 years is clearly the amount of time he must serve inside jail before being considered for probation. However here in teh UK if prisoners behave in jail they may be considered for probation in half that time.

Darth Vader
If he was paroled on one charge, he probably would still have to serve the 40 years.

Well it depends on whether it was life in prison with parole or without. If he can go to the parole board for a request to get out early and it is approved, he would still have to serve the other sentence (or portion of it). If he is given life without the possibility of parole, it is just another way of telling him that he is staying in there forever. Same thing goes for people with multiple life sentences, depends on whether they are with the chance of parole or not. Hope this helps

a "life" sentence means 25 years- british law

Agnostic Canadian
25 years

okay I've read all the posts here about 'life sentence' heres my question...here in georgia in 2001 a 17 year old was robbing a drug dealer, this 17 year old shot and killed the guy and recieved a life sentence.now 12 years later now an adult how likly would it be for him to get paroled?

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