Why do life sentences not mean life in (1)

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Why life sentences don’t mean life in the UK:

Why life sentences don’t mean life in the UK THE TRUTH ABOUT…….

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A lot of people get incensed at the small number of years offenders of the most serious crimes serve in prison, despite receiving so called ‘life sentences’. The general consensus seems to be that life should mean life. So why are prisoners in the UK who receive a ‘life sentence’ ever released?

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When imposing a life sentence a judge will impose a MINIMUM term. Usually between 15 and 30 years for adults depending on the circumstances. The offender may stay in prison for much longer than this, or may be released after the minimum term has been served.

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When setting the minimum term, the judge may take into account mitigating factors. For example, if the offender was provoked, if the offender acted to any extent in self-defence, or if there was a belief by the offender that the murder was an act of mercy. This allows the judge to be more lenient towards for example, victims of domestic violence who murder their partners or those who assist their loved ones with a terminal illness to die.

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In exceptional cases, a judge can impose “a whole life order”, meaning an offender is imprisoned for life, however even this does not necessarily mean the offender will spend the rest of his life in prison as the secretary of state has discretion to release such prisoners under compassionate grounds. This is what happened in the case of the Lockerbie bomber. The UK is almost alone in Europe in imposing irreducible life sentences.

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Those sentenced to life imprisonment DO NOT HAVE AN AUTOMATIC RIGHT TO BE RELEASED. Prisoners will only be released after their minimum term has expired if an independent Parole Board determines that they no longer pose a significant risk to the public. If this does not happen the offender may serve many more years in prison than their minimum term or may never be released.

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If a prisoner on a life sentence is released, they are released on license and this will remain in place for the rest of their lives. They can be recalled to prison at any time should they pose a threat to the public.

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Internal estimates indicate that, each year, between 1% and 2% of lifers freed on parole commit further crimes.

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Lawyers of those in prison for life have argued that sending someone to prison for life violates their human rights as their sentence is irreducible and not subject to review. They have argued this ‘crushes human dignity’ in the sense that the prisoner has no hope of release regardless of his behaviour and progress in prison.

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There are also financial implications. It costs £40,000 to keep one person in prison for a year. There is an argument that keeping older prisoners incarcerated, whilst being extremely expensive (especially whilst taking into account the greater need for health care services), does not significantly reduce the crime rate or improve public safety.

But is sending people to prison for life more about public safety than it is about retribution?:

But is sending people to prison for life more about public safety than it is about retribution?

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What do you think? Should life always mean life? Please comment if you have any thoughts.

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