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Life sentences growing in the U.S.?

Felony crimes can carry very long prison sentences with them. A conviction on some types of felonies here in Missouri could even expose a person to the possibility of being given a life sentence.

It appears that, in the U.S. as a whole, life sentences have been growing in prevalence. A recent study indicates that the number of individuals serving life sentences in America has grown significantly in the past three decades.

Reportedly, in 1984, the number of individuals serving a life sentence (with or without the possibility of parole) in the U.S. was 34,000. According to the study, in 2016, this number was all the way up to 161,957.

When you add virtual life sentences (a sentence that a prisoner is likely to die before completing) to the 2016 total, the total tops 200,000. Specifically, it comes to 206,268. This is a record-breaking total. It also means that around one-seventh of the entire U.S. prison population is serving a life (or virtual life) sentence.

In addition to the massive impacts a life sentence can have on the person given it and their family, such sentences can also have considerable impacts on society as a whole. For one, the taxpayer costs associated with such sentences can be high.

One wonders what is behind the number of individuals serving life sentences having grown so much here in America. One also wonders what overall effects this trend has had.

The possibility of losing one’s freedom for the rest of one’s life can be an incredibly scary thing. When one’s long-term freedom is at stake, understanding one’s options and protecting one’s rights can take on a whole new level of significance. Thus, having quality defense guidance can be of remarkably great importance when a person is facing a felony charge that carries the possibility of a life sentence or other long sentence here in Missouri.

Source: ABC News, “Number of people serving life in US prisons is surging, new report says,” Michael Edison Hayden, May 4, 2017

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