snopes.com Post new topic  Post a reply
search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hello snopes.com » Archived Forums » Legal Affairs Archive » Life in Prison

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Life in Prison
snopes
Return! Return! Return!


Icon 81 posted      Profile for snopes   Author's Homepage   E-mail snopes       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Comment: A while ago I heard a story about a man who
was sentenced to life in Prison. While there, he had a heart attack and
the doctor declared him dead. Well, then it turns out he wasnt dead after
all. So he got a lawyer and was fighting to get released because he had
technically fulfilled his "life in prison" and all that.

Thats all I had heard, never found out if he did get out or anything. I
was just wondering if you have heard anything of the sort, because it
sounds too off the wall to be true in my book.

Posts: 36029 | From: Admin | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Casey, making hot chocolate
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Casey, making hot chocolate   Author's Homepage   E-mail Casey, making hot chocolate   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I'd bet false, simply because life means as long as you live until you cease to do so. Since he did not permanently cease living, it's not a life sentence. If it were, wouldn't every inmate try to have a heart attack and temporarily die?

--------------------
"To be or not to be! That is the question! Now, will you answer, dare, double dare, or take the Physical Challenge?" --Mark Summers as Hamlet
Countdown: 177 days and counting... or less. My blog. 14 keyboards owed.

Posts: 5584 | From: Ohio | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Andrew of Ware, England
A-Ware in a Manger


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Andrew of Ware, England   Author's Homepage   E-mail Andrew of Ware, England   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I don't what judges say in the USA, but when a criminal gets a life sentence in Britain the judge usually says how many years it will be before he/she can be released.

--------------------
Andrew, Ware, England

Posts: 1709 | From: Ware, England | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Felessan
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Felessan   E-mail Felessan   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Andrew of Ware, England:
I don't what judges say in the USA, but when a criminal gets a life sentence in Britain the judge usually says how many years it will be before he/she can be released.

The minimum length of a 'life sentence' in the UK for the worst crimes of violence is usually 30 years - as in the Braybrook Street Police Murders of 1966. However, Nezar Hindawi received a minimum sentence of 45 years in 1987 for an attempt to destroy an El Al airliner with 375 on board by secreting a bomb in his pregnant girlfriend's luggage.

--------------------
You fool! That's not a warrior, that's a banana!
- a surreal moment in a role-playing game

Posts: 2480 | From: Australia | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
CD
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Probably a UL, but I had heard a story years ago about a guy who was sentenced to death by way of the electric chair. Well, they zap him and a doctor declares him dead. A short time later they discover a pulse. Since (according to the story) they cannot kill a guy twice, they have to let him go. His brain is fried and he is virtually a vegetable, but free.
IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Sara at home   E-mail Sara at home   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Probably a UL, but I had heard a story years ago about a guy who was sentenced to death by way of the electric chair. Well, they zap him and a doctor declares him dead. A short time later they discover a pulse. Since (according to the story) they cannot kill a guy twice, they have to let him go. His brain is fried and he is virtually a vegetable, but free.
Zap-a-chow

Back to the OP, there is a difference between your heart stopping during, say, a heart attack and being declared dead. One is a medical condition, the other a legal condition that genreally occurs quite a bit after the heart stopping. Don't think this happened.

--------------------
Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

Posts: 8317 | From: Reading, PA | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
JaMiE P
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Well, in Australia i know they give you (when it is a full life sentence - AKA no parole, and that you will die in jail) a term of your natural life, so in theory you could deliberatly almost kill yourself and require a computer or life support to survive, and you could go free.
IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
diddy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 1 posted      Profile for diddy   E-mail diddy   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
The prisoner wouldnt have a chance in hell so to peak. They changed the form to indicate that he wasnt dead, ergo, he never finished a life sentence (assuming he is ineligable for parole). You can only legally die once. So he either was dead, or he wasnt. It seems pretty obvious that he wasnt dead...

--------------------
W.W.F.S.M.D?
But this image of Bush as some sort of Snidely Whiplash tying the fair maiden to the railroad tracks is beyond the pale. - Joe Bentley

Posts: 2311 | From: Minnnesota | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
RoofingGuy
The First USA Noel


Icon 1 posted      Profile for RoofingGuy     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
It would technically depend on the wording of the sentence. For instance if he was to remain in prison "for the rest of his natural life" then how many heart attacks, heart stoppages or being pronounced "dead"s occured would be irrelevant to the sentence, because there was still more "life" remaining, as opposed to if it had happened to say "remanded in custody until dead".

I've heard the electric chair story thrown about a few times, and I do know that there are a few rare cases of people surviving a hanging execution (depending on the methodology). I think people's minds just run a bit wild sometimes with "what if"s. Some of the old sentences were phrased "hanged by the neck until dead"... you'd almost be surprised if there *weren't* ULs about people being declared dead and then reviving, and whether being pronounced "dead" satisfied the terms of the sentence. It's not like it specifically says you have to *stay* dead.

But then again, a clever lawyer could also try to argue that "double jeopardy" only applies if the death penalty is being sought... "nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb" -- by that wording, if your life isn't at risk, they can try you as many times as they want, or so the argument would go.

This is where Supreme Courts fit in, to decide how to apply the wording, if it becomes ambiguous. The "double jeopardy" amendent has been extended to non-capital crimes, despite seemingly clear wording (and an acknowledgement that it *was* originally meant to only apply to capital crimes). But I don't think that even if this heart attack story was true, any court would consider him as having completed the sentence. Probably either BS to start with, or a lawyer trying to get his name in the news (because t.v. advertising rates are too high?).

Posts: 724 | From: Ontario, CAN | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
diddy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 1 posted      Profile for diddy   E-mail diddy   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by RoofingGuy:
It would technically depend on the wording of the sentence. For instance if he was to remain in prison "for the rest of his natural life" then how many heart attacks, heart stoppages or being pronounced "dead"s occured would be irrelevant to the sentence, because there was still more "life" remaining, as opposed to if it had happened to say "remanded in custody until dead".

From the chow mentioned above, I got the impression that a judge would use those presise words. We may not be talking about an execution per say, i dont think a judge is going to write up a sentance summary that could be overtuned due to semantics. They would use a set struture like "A sentance of no less than thirty years and no longer than the rest of your natural life". Thats what I hear on law and order...

--------------------
W.W.F.S.M.D?
But this image of Bush as some sort of Snidely Whiplash tying the fair maiden to the railroad tracks is beyond the pale. - Joe Bentley

Posts: 2311 | From: Minnnesota | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
RoofingGuy
The First USA Noel


Icon 1 posted      Profile for RoofingGuy     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by diddy:
quote:
Originally posted by RoofingGuy:
It would technically depend on the wording of the sentence. For instance if he was to remain in prison "for the rest of his natural life" then how many heart attacks, heart stoppages or being pronounced "dead"s occured would be irrelevant to the sentence, because there was still more "life" remaining, as opposed to if it had happened to say "remanded in custody until dead".

From the chow mentioned above, I got the impression that a judge would use those presise words. We may not be talking about an execution per say, i dont think a judge is going to write up a sentance summary that could be overtuned due to semantics. They would use a set struture like "A sentance of no less than thirty years and no longer than the rest of your natural life". Thats what I hear on law and order...
Right... my point was supposed to be that different Sates phrase the sentences differently, and some might be more open to interpretation than others. They have "set structures", but not every State uses the same structure, so without knowing the wording of the sentence in question, it's kind of difficult to speculate on whether a lawyer could be successful in his arguments. So I stand by my assertion that whether he could actually be released would depend on the phrasing of the sentence and the court's interpretation of the phrasing, moreso than whether he really "died". I don't know the phrasing used, so I don't know whether there's any room for interpretation or not.
Posts: 724 | From: Ontario, CAN | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Simetrical
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
The courts are allowed to use some small amount of common sense, you know. The claim would be laughed out of court.

-Simetrical

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
fictional lie
I Saw Three Shipments


Icon 1 posted      Profile for fictional lie   Author's Homepage   E-mail fictional lie   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
when a judge gives someone a "life sentence," this doesn't always refer to being in jail until they die, so much as a term of years that is an a-typical "life span" of a person. It is something like 70 years.
I found this out a long time ago when I was curious as to why someone might receive more than one life sentence. If this is true, then you could theoretically outlive your sentence and be free, although that would be pretty rare and I imagine the life span of a person in prison is shorter than that of person on the outside.

--------------------
I am nothing but I'm more than you will ever be

Posts: 61 | From: New Hampshire | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Wizard of Yendor
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 98 posted      Profile for Wizard of Yendor   E-mail Wizard of Yendor   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
And what about cases were someone gets multiple life sentances? Would they need to have several heart attacks?
Posts: 2352 | From: California | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
LeaflessMapleTree
The twelve shopping days 'til Christmas


Icon 1 posted      Profile for LeaflessMapleTree   E-mail LeaflessMapleTree   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
when a judge gives someone a "life sentence," this doesn't always refer to being in jail until they die, so much as a term of years that is an a-typical "life span" of a person. It is something like 70 years.
Not true in Canada at least. A "life" sentence is 25 years without parole. After 25 years there is a parole hearing to decide if you can go free. If you are dangerous to society then you aren't getting out even if you live to be 140.

--------------------
"For me, religion is like a rhinoceros: I don't have one, and I'd really prefer not to be trampled by yours. But it is impressive, and even beautiful, and, to be honest, the world would be slightly worse off if there weren't any."
-Silas Sparkhammer

Posts: 3239 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Samortrical
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 1 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
fictional lie:
quote:
when a judge gives someone a "life sentence," this doesn't always refer to being in jail until they die, so much as a term of years that is an a-typical "life span" of a person. It is something like 70 years.
Do you have a source for this? It's not reasonable.
quote:
I found this out a long time ago when I was curious as to why someone might receive more than one life sentence.
That is a question I've considered. It has to do with being convicted of multiple crimes that require a life sentence, though—the additional life sentences don't actually do anything.

-Simetrical

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


Icon 503 posted      Profile for Four Kitties   E-mail Four Kitties   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by fictional lie:
when a judge gives someone a "life sentence," this doesn't always refer to being in jail until they die, so much as a term of years that is an a-typical "life span" of a person. It is something like 70 years.

Not true in Massachusetts. Here's a link to the relevant statute. Life without parole is only permitted for first degree murder here; any other life sentence and you're eligible for parole after 15 years. Getting multiple life sentences pretty much stomps on your chances of ever getting paroled.

Four Kitties

--------------------
If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Posts: 13275 | From: Kindergarten World, Massachusetts | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Allison
Tennessee Ernie Ford


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Allison   E-mail Allison   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Samortrical:
the additional life sentences don't actually do anything.

That depends. Some (not all) life sentences allow for the possibility of parole. Adding multiple life sentences on to the first one delays that possible parole date.

Allison

ETA: simulpost with Four Kitties.

--------------------
If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
Anatole France

Posts: 1576 | From: Denver, CO | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Pogue Ma-humbug
Happy Christmas (Malls are Open)


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Pogue Ma-humbug   E-mail Pogue Ma-humbug   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by fictional lie:
when a judge gives someone a "life sentence," this doesn't always refer to being in jail until they die, so much as a term of years that is an a-typical "life span" of a person. It is something like 70 years.

Certainly not in Kentucky. Life means life. You have a chance of parole, but without parole, you spend the rest of your life in prison.


quote:
I found this out a long time ago when I was curious as to why someone might receive more than one life sentence.
The same reason someone receives multiple sentences that run at the same time. It's to show they are convicted of mroe than one crime, and it impacts on their chances of parole.

Pogue

--------------------
Let's drink to the causes in your life:
Your family, your friends, the union, your wife.

Posts: 11325 | From: Kentucky | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Malruhn   E-mail Malruhn   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I don't know if things have changed, but I recall about 20 years ago that "Life" in California was considered to be 25 years - or the majority of a normal person's "productive life". If this was a first offense, parole could have a person out in 1/3 of the time... or a grand total of 7.33 years.

So - some joker kills somebody, then gets a life sentence... and spends less than 10 years in prison for it. Many people used this as an example of what happens when you are "too soft on crime". I have no idea how long a life sentence is there now.

In 1983ish, Louisiana had "Life" and "Mandatory Life". The first was 50 years, parolable out in 1/3 of the time for first offenders - 50% of the time for people that had a prior felony conviction... The second was "You're gonna be in prison until we carry you out in a box" life, and was non-parolable.

--------------------
Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

Posts: 5622 | From: Jax, Florida | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


Icon 503 posted      Profile for Four Kitties   E-mail Four Kitties   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Pogue Mahone:
quote:
Originally posted by fictional lie:
when a judge gives someone a "life sentence," this doesn't always refer to being in jail until they die, so much as a term of years that is an a-typical "life span" of a person. It is something like 70 years.

Certainly not in Kentucky. Life means life. You have a chance of parole, but without parole, you spend the rest of your life in prison.
This is what I'm saying, that's the way it is in Massachusetts too, which is where fictional lie is ostensibly posting from. It's not as if parole is automatic; just the opposite, in fact. I'm afraid his/her/its post is fictional.

--------------------
If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Posts: 13275 | From: Kindergarten World, Massachusetts | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
fictional lie
I Saw Three Shipments


Icon 1 posted      Profile for fictional lie   Author's Homepage   E-mail fictional lie   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
I don't know if things have changed, but I recall about 20 years ago that "Life" in California was considered to be 25 years - or the majority of a normal person's "productive life". If this was a first offense, parole could have a person out in 1/3 of the time... or a grand total of 7.33 years.

So - some joker kills somebody, then gets a life sentence... and spends less than 10 years in prison for it. Many people used this as an example of what happens when you are "too soft on crime". I have no idea how long a life sentence is there now.

In 1983ish, Louisiana had "Life" and "Mandatory Life". The first was 50 years, parolable out in 1/3 of the time for first offenders - 50% of the time for people that had a prior felony conviction... The second was "You're gonna be in prison until we carry you out in a box" life, and was non-parolable.

This is what I was talking about...more so the fact that not every time a judge says "life" do they immedately assume that the prisoner will die in there. Without bringing up the topic of parole, with "life" and "life without parole" being two different things, it is obvious (now) that "life" does indeed mean a different term per each state.

...obviously if "life" actually meant LIFE, then why say "life without parole?" If you are doing something for LIFE, then there is no way of getting out of it...if that makes sense.

--------------------
I am nothing but I'm more than you will ever be

Posts: 61 | From: New Hampshire | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Malruhn   E-mail Malruhn   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Fictional Lie, in my experience, every sentencing judge knows exactly what they are sentencing the convict for. The times I sat in court in Vernon Parish, in Leesville, Louisiana, the judge would read out exactly what the sentence was - and then tell the convict when they were eligible for parole. He would pre-calculate the time, 33% for first time felony convicts, 50% for second + felony convictions, or absolutely never for "mandatory life" sentences.

And I agree with your idea about what "life" SHOULD be... Others have said that it should be for your "productive" life.

This has led some judges to do consecutive sentences - so if you get convicted of murder AND punching a kitty, you get life for murder (50 years), and then a DAY (or another silly amount) for the punching. The way parole rules run (usually), you do your sentence for the first crime, then can be paroled out for the second sentence... so you can be paroled out after 50 years and eight hours (or 12 hours if a repeat felon).

This helps explain the old sentences of "99 years and a day".

Some states now allow parole on ALL sentences, so if you have three life sentences (of 25 years each), you can do 7.33 on one, get paroled, do 7.33 years on the second, get paroled on that one, then do 7.33 on the third, get paroled and get out to enjoy a taco at La Cockroacha back home. 25 years total for a 75 year (total) sentence. This was calculated using my possibly faulty recollection of California's laws. In Louisiana, it would have been 50 years out of a possible 150 years.

--------------------
Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

Posts: 5622 | From: Jax, Florida | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.

Instant Graemlins
   


Post new topic  Post a reply Close topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Urban Legends Reference Pages

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2