What does a life sentence mean
Offenders who are convicted of murder are usually sentenced to life imprisonment and this is also the maximum penalty for some other very serious crimes.
There is no set period of custody for prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment. Prisoners serve a period which takes into account the need to:
- punish the individual offender
- deter others from committing similar offences
- protect the public from future harm
The court will stipulate a tariff period which will be the minimum amount of time a life sentenced prisoner must serve before he/she is considered for release by the Parole Commissioners (PCNI).
After release, a life sentenced prisoner is on licence for life and may be returned to prison if they are considered to be a risk to public safety.