The Evolution of Life Sentences For Second-Degree Murder: Parole Ineligibility and Time Spent in Prison

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Very little data has examined what life sentences for murder actually mean for those convicted in Canada. This paper begins to fill this gap by examining data on both the parole ineligibility periods imposed by sentencing judges and how long people are serving before a grant of full parole over time from 1977 to 2020. We found statistically significant increases over time in judicial parole ineligibility periods and in how long people are serving beyond their first full parole eligibility date. We also found that Indigenous persons serve longer periods of time past their parole ineligibility date. We conclude that sentencing for murder has become increasingly harsh over time with no public safety rationale for this increase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-94
JournalCanadian Bar Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2 2022

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