Define life sentence for me

In For Life? Not Him

However, earlier in the article it stated:

Mind you, this is a man who confessed to murder during the commission of a crime and who had previously escaped and attemted to escape from custody.

I know a parole hearing does not equal “Get Out of Jail”, but why the hell does someone with two life sentences even get the chance? Not only that, but a guy serving two life sentences, escaped, and was found again in the possession of stolen property and a weapon (taser). Don’t the taxpayers of California have better things to spend their money on?

Sometimes I (irrationally) think it’s easier for a convicted murderer to walk free than a recreational pot smoker.

Correction, not just the California taxpayers. Seems as this reprobate has made the federal penitentiary rounds, having last excaped from a North Dakota prison.

Last post by me until a response. Can someone report this to a mod and ask for a title change: “Define Life Sentence for Me” :smack:


I reported it for you.

Fixed the title.

I’m sure we can all agree that our penal system has some (if not many) glaring flaws. Frankly, I’m shocked that this story didn’t take place in California- land of inefficient prisons and poorly planned out punishment.

It really makes no sense that a murderer who has escaped twice *and * has two life sentences would be up for any type of parole. . . ever. This is just another example of the extreme inefficiency that’s plagued our system for as long as it has existed.

Charles Manson has parole hearings.

“up for (consideration of) parole” does not equal “will be paroled” as any number of my clients can tell you.

D_Odds, you do realize that you can’t take the words “Life Sentence” as meaning anything specifically, without knowing what state one is talking about, I hope.

For example, the Son of Sam Killer, here in NY, is going to be up for parole, soon. (I seem to recall he would be first eligible for it come this year, but I can’t say for certain.) What’s fascinating is when one considers that he was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences.

This is not to say that I expect he will be given parole, but he is going to be eligible for consideration.

There is something to be said for the people pushing for truth in sentencing laws.

I didn’t see this when I previewed, so another comment here.

wring, I know that. But there’s something about having someone sentenced to consecutive life sentences becoming eligible for even a parole hearing that seems a bit surreal.

Not to mention the effect on public perception due to the recent lawsuit from one of the Manson family (I can’t recall which one, and don’t care enough to do a Google search for it.) claiming that her rights were being violated by the policy of the Governor’s policy not to grant parole to certain classes of murderers.

Call my ignorant, but why even have parole hearings for people like Manson or any number of other people? If someone has multiple life sentences, why waste the time, money, and every other necessary resource?

surreal it may be, however from my understanding of the system, a hearing is required unless the sentence itself doesn’t allow for it.

Frankly the parole hearing itself in these circumstances is about the least of my concerns about wasting $$ in the corrections system.

There are several lines of reasoning, AIUI.

First - parole exists as one of the bennies that the prison administration can wave in front of prisoners as another reason to behave while incarcerated.

Second - parole can be used to mitigate sentences that were overly harsh, or made in poor understanding of the facts or background of the case. Because of the nature of a parole hearing facts that a lawyer might judge as being of questionable effect on a jury can be brought out to the parole board without actually jeopardizing further punishment for the prisoner being considered for parole.

Third - with these long, life or multi-life sentences it’s quite reasonable for some people to talk about rewarding the person that the prisoner has become, rather than pretending that nothing the prisoner did since his or her incarceration should be considered. The most notable case I can think of in this line of thinking were all the people looking to have Shrub commute Karla Faye Tucker’s sentence to life.

And, while I’m not entirely sold on any of these arguments, I can see circumstances where they can be legitimate.

Finally, wring hit it with his comment about unless the sentence percludes the very possibility of parole there is at least room to argue the need to go through the motions. And I agree about the relative waste of a parole hearing compared to many other routine costs.

(Frankly, Manson scares me far less that this monster. He’s 24, now, and on a two year parole hearing cycle. With no sign that he’s changed, at all.)

David Berkowith (Son of Sam) was first eligible for parole in 2002. He was sentenced to 365 years. I don’t ever expect him to be freed; I’m just a little confused as to why we (society) even bothers with the paper shuffling. Lock the cell door and lose the key.

An indeterminate sentence, the standard procedure for multi-year sentences including life, is just that. Its length is indeterminate, with a stated maximum and minimum. The old joke that involves “five to ten at Leavenworth” plays on this: the sentence must run a minimum of five years and cannot exceed a maximum of ten. Parole hearings after five years decide whether there has been rehabilitation sufficient to release the prisoner before his maximum sentence.

Life sentences ordinarily are something like twenty-to-life, meaning that parole hearings cannot commence until after 20 years have passed, and there is no point at which the prisoner may be released alive without a positive report from the parole board.

Some states have a sentence of “life without parole” for the most heinous crimes, which means exactly what it says, at least in North Carolina. But otherwise “life” does not necessarily mean “will be locked up for the rest of his natural life” but rather “may be kept in prison for the remainder of his life if he shows no (or inadequate) evidence of having been rehabilitated.” A parole board ordinarily takes their job very seriously, and would think long and hard before releasing a Manson or a Berkowitz. But the guy who committed a homicide while high at 18, has spent the last 15 years studying, learning a trade, and looking for ways to pay his debt to the family of his victim, and is no more likely to be a repeat offender than any of us are to be a first-time one – he is a good candidate for parole, and holding him for his 50-year maximum is counterproductive.

if nothing at all else, I would expect that the criminal justice departments follow the law.

Okay. You’re ignorant.

The law is the law, and rights are rights. We don’t make special laws for people we really extra hate. That breaks the system.

Oh please. We make special laws for people we extra hate all the time. Terrorists, sex offenders, drug “kingpins,” we extra hate all of them and all of them have special laws aimed at them.

:dubious: The point in question is, can we deny people parole hearings if they probably won’t make parole. You are here to defend the idea that we should deny people parole hearings if we think they probably won’t make parole, and that such uneven treatment would be perfectly just? Or are you being deliberately obtuse?

Actually, that’s not my question. My question is why even give them parole hearings to begin with (in the legal code or sentencing), not why deny them. Son of Sam gets 365 years, but gets a parole hearing 25 years later? Whom does that serve?

Do “3 Strikes” offenders get a shot a parole?