minimum of 15 to life, maximum 25 to life

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minimum of 15 to life, maximum 25 to life

Postby RR320 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:10 pm

I know this is a silly question, but does this just mean that someone who receives a maximum sentence of 25 to life, serves a prison sentence with the certainty they will be locked up for 25 years and with the possibility of never getting parole? And, once they serve the 25 years they can go in front of the parole board to ask for parole, but if its denied, they have to wait another 2 years before requesting it again?


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Re: minimum of 15 to life, maximum 25 to life

Postby Renzo » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:46 pm

I'm not clear on what you're asking. Are you referring to the federal sentencing guidelines, or the language in a specific statute, or something else?


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Re: minimum of 15 to life, maximum 25 to life

Postby random5483 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:40 pm

I have some familiarity with the California sentencing system from pre-law school work so maybe I can help. This response is specific to California and from a non-law student perspective (not particularly interested in crim law).

California has two sentencing systems, namely determinate sentencing and indeterminate sentencing. All life sentences fall under the latter category. Within the category of life setences, there are two types. The first is Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) and the second is life sentences such as the ones you described (e.g. 15 years to life). Some lifers are in prison for a combination of a determinate and indeterminate sentence in which case their terms can get more confusing.

LWOPs never parole. They will serve out the rest of their life in prison unless their sentences are reversed, amended, or commuted. Other lifers have a chance of paroling when their minimum sentence has been served. A lifer serving a 15 year to life sentence will serve 15 years (possibly less with conduct credits...though many crimes that allow life sentences bar conduct credits). After the 15 year (or less) term is served, the inmate gets to have a parole board hearing. During the parole board hearing, the commissioners of the dept. of corr. determine if he should be released. Historically, almost none of these inmates ever get release (somewhere between 1-3% based on who you ask). After their initial parole board hearing, the inmate can have continuing hearings periodically. Unfortunately for the inmate, he will probably never parole.

In California, a life sentence, even one that says "15 years to life" will most likely be the same as an LWOP sentence. Few lifers get out of prison without a change to the sentence (e.g. higher court reversing or amending sentence on appeal).

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