Life imprisonment  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Life imprisonment (also known as a life sentence, lifelong incarceration or life incarceration) is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life. Examples of crimes for which a person could receive this sentence include murder, severe child abuse, rape, high treason, severe or violent cases of drug dealing or human trafficking, or aggravated cases of burglary or robbery resulting in death or grievous bodily harm.

This sentence does not exist in all countries. Portugal was the first country in the world to abolish life imprisonment by the Prison reforms of Sampaio e Melo, in 1884. However, where life imprisonment is a possible sentence, there may also be formal mechanisms to request parole after a certain period of imprisonment. This means that a convict could be entitled to spend the rest of the sentence (that is, until he or she dies) outside of prison. Early release is usually conditional depending on past and future conduct, possibly with certain restrictions or obligations. In contrast, in jurisdictions without life imprisonment, a convict who has served the given prison sentence is free upon release.

The length of time and the modalities surrounding parole vary greatly for each jurisdiction. In some places convicts are entitled to apply for parole relatively early, in others only after several decades. However, the time of legally being entitled to apply for parole does not often tell anything about the actual date of being granted parole. Article 110 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court stipulates that for the gravest forms of crimes (e.g., war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide), a prisoner ought to serve two thirds of a fixed sentence, or 25 years in the case of life imprisonment. The highest determined prison sentence that can be imposed in the ICC is 35 years in prison, other than life imprisonment. After this period, the court shall then review the sentence to determine whether it should be reduced.

Unlike other areas of criminal law, sentences handed to minors do not differ from those given to legal adults. A few countries worldwide had allowed for minors to be given lifetime sentences that have no provision for eventual release. Countries that allow life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for juveniles include Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Belize, Brunei, Cuba, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, and the United States. Of these, only the United States currently has minors serving such sentences. As of 2009, Human Rights Watch had calculated that there were 2,589 youth offenders serving life without parole in the United States.

In 2010, the United States Supreme court ruled that sentencing minors to life without parole for crimes other than first-degree murder violated the 8th Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual" punishment, in the case of Graham v. Florida.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Life imprisonment" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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