Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Kimberly Albin & Patrick F. McManimon Jr.
“Lifer” is a slang term referring to a prisoner who is serving a life sentence. There are two types of lifers, those who will spend the rest of their natural lives in prison waiting to die, and those who may someday be paroled or at least become eligible for parole. Over the past two decades, the composition of the population serving life sentences has changed. In the past, lifers were women as well as men convicted of the most serious and violent crimes. These individuals have now been joined by others who have been convicted of multiple nonviolent felonies such as drug offenses under increasingly punitive sanctions such as the “three strikes” laws and other mandatory minimum sentences. Lifers are often individuals with little if any past criminal background. Most are not processed for parole until they meet certain predetermined time requirements (25 years as an example) imposed by the ...