Life imprisonment

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Life imprisonment

Post  Yoke on Wed May 13, 2009 11:50 am

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. Examples of crimes which can result in life imprisonment include murder and rape and drug trafficking under the RICO laws, especially if the person in question has committed these acts multiple times.

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

In law, a sentence forms the final act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to his function. The sentence generally involves a decree of imprisonment, a fine and/or other punishments against a defendant convicted of a crime. Those imprisoned for multiple crimes, will serve either a consecutive sentence (in which the period of imprisonment equals the sum of all the sentences) or a concurrent sentence (in which the period of imprisonment equals the length of the longest sentence). If a sentence gets reduced to a less harsh punishment, then the sentence is said to have been "mitigated". Rarely (depending on circumstances) murder charges are "mitigated" and reduced to manslaughter charges. However, in certain legal systems, a defendant may be punished beyond the terms of the sentence, e.g. social stigma, loss of governmental benefits, or collectively, the collateral consequences of criminal charges.

A prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility is a place in which individuals are physically confined or interned and usually deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Prisons are conventionally institutions, which form part of the criminal justice system of a country, such that imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime.

In popular parlance of many countries, the term jail (gaol) is considered synonymous with prison.

A criminal suspect who has been charged with or is likely to be charged with a criminal offense may be held on remand in prison if he or she is denied, refused or unable to meet conditions of bail, or is unable to post bail. This may also occur where the court determines that the suspect is at risk of absconding before the trial, or is otherwise a risk to society. A criminal defendant may also be held in prison while awaiting trial or a trial verdict. If found guilty, a defendant will be convicted and may receive a custodial sentence requiring imprisonment.

Prisons may also be used as a tool of political repression to detain political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, and "enemies of the state", particularly by authoritarian regimes. In times of war or conflict, prisoners of war may also be detained in prisons. A prison system is the organizational arrangement of the provision and operation of prisons, and depending on their nature, may invoke a corrections system. Although people have been imprisoned throughout history, they have also regularly been able to perform prison

Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole, meaning "(spoken) word." Following its use in late-medieval Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their word of honor to abide by certain restrictions.

Murder, as defined in common law countries, is the unlawful killing of another human being with intent (or malice aforethought), and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide. All jurisdictions, ancient and modern, consider it a most serious crime and therefore impose severe penalty on its commission. The word murder is related, in old English, to the French word mordre (bite) in reference to the heavy compensation one must pay for causing an unjust death.

Rape, also referred to as sexual assault, is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with or sexual penetration of another person without that person's consent. Rape is generally considered a serious sex crime, as well as a civil assault.

The rate of reporting, prosecution and convictions for rape varies considerably in different jurisdictions. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of U.S. rape victims are female.[1] In one survey of women, two percent of respondents who stated they were sexually assaulted said that the assault was perpetrated by a stranger.[2]

When part of a widespread and systematic practice, rape and sexual slavery are recognized as crimes against humanity and war crimes. Rape is also recognized as an element of the crime of genocide when committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a targeted group.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly referred to as RICO Act or RICO) is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. RICO was enacted by section 901(a) of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 (Pub.L. 91-452, 84 Stat. 922, enacted October 15, 1970). RICO is codified as Chapter 96 of Title 18 of the United States Code, 18 U.S.C. § 1961–1968. While its intended use was to prosecute the Mafia as well as others who were actively engaged in organized crime, its application has been more widespread.

It has been speculated that the name and acronym were selected in a sly reference to the movie Little Caesar, which featured a notorious gangster named Rico. The original drafter of the bill, G. Robert Blakey, refused to confirm or deny this

Capital punishment, the death penalty or execution, is the killing of a person by judicial process for retribution, general deterrence, and incapacitation. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from Latin capitalis, literally "regarding the head" (Latin caput). Hence, a capital crime was originally one punished by the severing of the head.

Capital punishment has been practiced in virtually every society, excluding those with state religious proscriptions against it. It is a matter of active controversy in various states, and positions can vary within a single political ideology or cultural region. A major exception is in Europe, where Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits the practice.[1]

Today, most countries are considered by Amnesty International as abolitionists,[2] which allowed a vote on a nonbinding resolution to the UN to promote the abolition of the death penalty.[3] But more than 60% of the worldwide population live in countries where executions take place in so far as the four most populous countries in the world (such as People's Republic of China, India, United States and Indonesia) apply the death penalty.

Life Imprisonment without Parole
Such penalties have been imposed before.[34] One early American case was Ex Parte Wells.[35] Wells was convicted of murder in 1851, and sentenced to be hanged. On the day of his execution, President Fillmore gave him a conditional pardon, and commuted his sentence to "imprisonment for life in the penitentiary at Washington." Wells appealed the conditionality of his pardon. The sentence was upheld, with no discussion by the majority of the purpose of the substituted punishment.

The dissent brings up the irony of the substitution:

"It is insisted that the President had power to reprieve from the sentence of death. This is admitted; but no reprieve has been granted. On the contrary, an act has been done, entirely inconsistent with a reprieve, as that only suspends the punishment for a fixed period. . . . It is a perversion of the facts to say that Wells has been reprieved by the president . . ."[cite this quote]
Wells was still under sentence of death, that is, death by confinement. Wells does not appear further in the literature, and his ultimate fate is unknown.[citation needed]

This is the fate of most prisoners in history, however, who have been given the penultimate penalty, what in former times was referred to as "perpetual imprisonment."

There were no English books on the subject of life imprisonment without parole in English before 1987.[36]

[edit] Rehabilitation
Recently institutions favoring rehabilitation and treatment have become popular. In 1955, a model "total treatment facility" for the criminally disturbed opened in Jessup, Maryland. Prisoners were to be released only after psychiatrists had certified that they had been reformed. Twenty years later, a Maryland Court ruled that conditions there violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. And of course such modern treatment of rehabilitation would be pointless for the LWOP prisoner.

It was estimated that it cost $17,324 per year to keep an inmate in prison in 1984. In 1986 the annual cost per inmate on Rikers Island was reported to be about $43,000[37], the same as California in 2006[38], the same cost of a year tuition room and board at Harvard University. By a conservative estimate, it costs $3 billion a year to house America's lifers. And as prisoners age, their medical care can become very expensive.

Countries without life imprisonment

[edit] Austria
Theoretically possible in a literal sense; however, this penalty is not in force de facto, as life sentences are considered to be 20-25 years in duration. After 15 years parole is possible, if it can be assumed that the inmate will not re-offend. This is subject to the discretion of a criminal court panel, and a possible appeal to the high court. Alternatively, the President may grant a pardon upon motion of the Minister of Justice. Prisoners who committed their crime when below the age of 21 can be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.[28][29]

However, Austria has made two exceptions: Serial killer Jack Unterweger was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for his second string of murders after his release from prison. Josef Fritzl was also sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 15 years on March 19, 2009 for enslavement, negligent murder, false imprisonment, coercion, incest, and rape.

[edit] Bolivia
The maximum penalty is 30 years imprisonment.

[edit] Bosnia and Herzegovina
Before Bosnia and Herzegovina became independent in 1992, the maximum penalty was 20 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty since has been increased to 40 years; however, prisoners generally serve around 15 years, as most of them are pardoned for good behavior. Lesser penalties are given to offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offence.

[edit] Brazil
Article 5 of the Constitution of Brazil forbids the death penalty (except in case of war) or life imprisonment. The Brazilian Penal Code from the Vargas Era establishes the maximum penalty as 30 years imprisonment. All convicts enjoy provisions that allow for parole after 10 years — serial mugger and killer João Acácio Pereira da Costa is the only known case of a convict sentenced to the maximum of 30 years since 1985.

[edit] Colombia
Life imprisonment is expressly forbidden by Article 34 of the Colombian Constitution of 1991. The maximum penalty is 60 years imprisonment.

[edit] Croatia
The maximum penalty is 40 years imprisonment.

[edit] Dominican Republic
The maximum penalty is 30 years imprisonment.

[edit] Ecuador
The maximum penalty is 16 years imprisonment, or in extreme cases, 25 years imprisonment.[30]

[edit] Greece
A "life sentence" is 25 years, with eligibility for parole after 16 years. If a sentence consists of multiple life terms, parole is available after 20 years. If there are other crimes involved, parole is available after having served 60% of the total imposed term.[31]

[edit] Macau
Life imprisonment is prohibited by the Macanese Código Penal (Penal Code). The maximum penalty is 25 years imprisonment, or in extreme cases, 30 years imprisonment. [32]

[edit] Mexico
Life imprisonment is defined as any long and determinate sentence ranging from 20 to 60 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, which is a violation of Article 18 of the Constitution of Mexico. [33]

[edit] Nepal
Life imprisonment means 20 years imprisonment by law.

[edit] Norway
The maximum penalty is 21 years imprisonment, but only a small percentage of prisoners serve more than 14 years. Prisoners will typically get unsupervised parole for weekends etc. after serving ⅓ of their sentence (a maximum of 7 years).

In extreme cases, a sentence called "containment" (Norwegian: forvaring) can be passed. In such a case the prisoner will not be released unless they are deemed not to be of danger to society. This sentence is, however, regarded 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 prisoner can be granted privileges far beyond what is extended to prisoners serving normal prison sentences.

[edit] Philippines
With the abolition of the death penalty in 2006, the maximum penalty is reclusion perpetua, which stands at 40 years imprisonment. The prisoner will be eligible for release or pardon after having served 30 years.

[edit] Portugal
The maximum penalty is 25 years imprisonment, but the vast majority of prisoners serve up to 20 years.

[edit] Republic of the Congo
The maximum penalty is 30 years imprisonment.

[edit] Spain
The maximum penalty is 30 years imprisonment, but since 2003 a maximum of 40 years can be handed down in extreme cases. Though a criminal may be condemned for multiple crimes which sum to much longer periods of time, the term for every charge is served concurrently. Thus, the maximum time one can spend in jail is equal to the maximum of 30 or 40 years. However, these things only happen in case of terrorism, notably involving Basque nationalism.[34]

[edit] Uruguay
The 26th article of the Uruguayan Constitution forbids the death penalty or sentences of more than 30 years imprisonment.

[edit] Venezuela
The maximum penalty is 30 years imprisonment.

Indefinite imprisonment or indeterminate imprisonment is the imposition of a sentence with no specified amount of time[1]. Its length, rather, is determined during imprisonment based on the inmate's reformation. In some cases, the goal could be to return the inmate to society. In others, the intention could be to keep the inmate behind bars for the remainder of his/her natural life. In theory, an indefinite prison sentence could be very short, or it could be a life sentence if no decision is made after sentencing to lift the term. In many cases, a small minimum term is imposed, or the maximum that can be served is the maximum allowable by law in the jurisdiction for the particular offense.

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