Back-to-back life sentences
In judicial practice, back-to-back life sentences are two or more consecutive life sentences given to a felon. This penalty is typically used to prevent the felon from ever getting released from prison.
This is a common punishment for a double murder in the United States, and is effective because the defendant may be awarded parole after 25 years when he or she is eligible, and then must serve an additional 25 years in prison to be eligible for parole again. It also serves as a type of insurance that the defendant will have to serve the maximum length of at least one life sentence if, for some reason, one of the murder convictions is overturned on appeal.
Other countries either allow multiple concurrent life sentences which can be served at the same time (e.g. Russia), or allow multiple consecutive life sentences with a single minimum term (e.g. Australia), thus allowing earlier release of the prisoner.
Since 2 December 2011, it is possible for back-to-back life sentences to be handed out in Canada. Before doing this, the judge must consider a jury recommendation as to whether to impose a minimum sentence of more than 25 years. The longest minimum sentence so far is 75 years, handed out to four offenders: Justin Bourque, John Paul Ostamas, Douglas Garland and Derek Saretzky.
- The Free Dictionary on Back-to-back life sentences
- CBC: Justin Bourque gets 5 life sentences, no chance of parole for 75 years
- CBC: Homeless killer John Paul Ostamas gets no chance of parole for 75 years
- CBC: Judge's sentence means 'cunning, cruel' murderer Douglas Garland will die in prison
- CBC: Triple murderer Derek Saretzky wants a new trial following convictions in Crowsnest Pass killings
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