What Does It Mean to Be “25 to Life”?

In legal language, “25 to life” refers to a sentence that includes a life sentence with the possibility of release after 25 years. It’s a means to set a definite minimum sentence without entirely eliminating the possibility of parole.

While the sentence may need 25 years before release is granted, this may be contingent on prison population conditions, good behaviour, or other criteria in some cases. If parole is not granted, the sentence might last the rest of the inmate’s life.

In the instance of extremely serious offences, the sentence may simply be referred to as a “life sentence,” with no prospect of release.

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Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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