Life imprisonment (also known as a life sentence, life-long incarceration or life incarceration) is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life. Examples of crimes for which a person could receive this sentence include murder, high treason, severe or violent cases of drug dealing or human trafficking, or aggravated cases of burglary or robbery resulting in death or grievous bodily harm.
This sentence does not exist in all countries. Portugal was the first country in the world to abolish life imprisonment by Penal Reform of Sampaio e Melo, in 1884. However, where life imprisonment is a possible sentence, there may also be formal mechanisms to request parole after a certain period of imprisonment. This means that a convict could be entitled to spend the rest of the sentence (that is, until he or she dies) outside of prison. Early release is usually conditional depending on past and future conduct, possibly with certain restrictions or obligations. In contrast, in jurisdictions without life imprisonment, a convict who has served the given prison sentence is free upon release.
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