How Long is a Life Sentence?

How Long is a Life Sentence

What is the average lifespan in prison? How long do inmates usually serve their sentences? These are questions that many people likely have, but don’t know where to find the answers. In this blog post, we will dive into the statistics of life expectancy in prison and explore some of the factors that play a role in determining how long someone spends behind bars.

What is a Life Sentence?

A life sentence is a type of imprisonment where someone who pleads or is found guilty of a crime is sentenced to remain in prison for life or until parole is granted. 

What is a Life Sentence

How long can someone be sentenced to life in prison?

In most parts of the United States, someone can be sentenced to life in prison from 15 years up to the rest of their life, or the person can be granted a chance for parole. That individual may receive parole for good behavior either permanently or temporarily. Note, we said a possibility of parole “lightly.”  

There are also situations where offenders who have committed severe crimes or partake in extreme criminal activities wouldn’t get a chance for parole and would have to spend the remainder of their natural life in prison. 

sentenced to life in prison

The average length of time served for murder 

Committing the act of murder is very serious, and any person or persons who participate in such criminality can face severe punishments. Somebody can spend up to 15 years or face a life sentence in imprisonment for murdering someone, and in some states, individuals may even face the death sentence. There are different types of murder, they are:

  • First-degree murder
  • Second-degree murder
  • Third-degree murder (felony murder)

Some first-degree murder crimes involve:

  • Shooting any person or persons
  • Stabbing 
  • Killing by the use of poison
  • Strangulation
  • Torturing person or persons
  • Willful killings that were intentional
  • Acts of terrorism

Some second-degree murder crimes can involve:

  • Opening fire of a weapon into a large crowd
  • Intentional killings
  • Predicted actions that lead to death; despite that, the intention wasn’t to kill.
  • Acts intended to cause injury, but not knowing that this act will lead to the person or persons’ death.

Some third-degree murder crimes can involve:

  • Someone driving under the influence accidentally hits and kills that person.
  • Persons committing a robbery took someone’s life due to that robbery.
  • A murder that occurred due to another crime despite it being unintentional. 


What are the chances that an offender will be released on parole after serving their complete sentence?

As we know, parole is a conditional release from prison for an inmate on good behavior, and the prisoner must be on the parole board member’s good ranking to receive parole. However, some cases may rarely occur where the offender can be released on parole after serving their complete sentence, and in other instances, prisoners can receive early parole. Let’s just say parole isn’t that easy to acquire. 

chances that an offender will be released on parole

Some crimes that are not eligible for parole

Not everyone who gets arrested has the chance of receiving parole; being a parolee has some challenging responsibilities because they have to live up to different expectations as they are out in public. Some of the crimes that are not eligible for parole are:

  • Kidnapping
  • Drug traffic
  • First-degree murder
  • Arson
  • Rape


crimes that are not eligible for parole

What is the process of parole?

Any prisoner who would like to go through parole must serve a portion of their prison sentence. Second, the parolee’s case must be brought up to the board, and then a decision is made on whether they should be released into the community. If the board decides that the individual is unfit for parole, they will continue the sentence. 

A parolee should always consider that even if they are released into the community and continue being a menace to society, they could risk being returned to custody. 

the process of the parole board

States With The Death Penalty

What is the Process of the Parole Board?

The job of the parole board is to make a safe decision about whether the offender should be released into society. The board members would have to make tough decisions because it’s not only about the inmates, but they should also think of the community’s safety if that offender is released.  

Hence the reason any offender’s request for parole should be well-grounded, and the offender has to earn this gift of parole. The act of good behavior for the offender wouldn’t be enough for the board members to release them into society. It takes more! The parole board members would consider the offender’s age and mental capabilities. 

The parole board has to go through tons of information about the offender like their sentencing, behavior in prison, etc. They would also consult the professionals who have worked with the jail that the offender has spoken to, like prison staff, psychologists, probation officers, psychiatrists, etc. So parole isn’t easy to obtain, and the parole board members have to be tough and make the best decision possible.

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