Longest Prison Sentences

On August 1, 2013, Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years for kidnapping three young women and holding them in captivity for more than a decade. Approximately one month later, on September 3, he was found dead, hanging in his cell. Apparently, the thought of captivity, which he ruthlessly inflicted on his three victims, was too much for him. Life without parole plus 1,000 years is a sentence which is designed to ensure that the convicted person will never, ever be released from prison. While Castro's sentence was newsworthy, it was not the longest sentence ever handed down. Take a look at our infographic to learn more.

While the average prison sentence is 2.9 years, longer sentences are certainly possible for more egregious crimes. In Oklahoma, life sentences are possible for violent crimes including murder, manslaughter, child abuse, and rape. In some cases, life sentences are multiplied, with a convicted person given a life sentence for each victim. 

Sometimes, a person is sentenced not to life, but to hundreds or even thousands of years in prison. The longest prison sentence on record, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, actually comes from Oklahoma, which is really not surprising when you look at the state's reputation for tough sentencing. In 1994, Charles Scott Robinson was convicted of six counts of sex crimes against children, including rape by instrumentation, forcible oral sodomy, and lewd acts with a child under 16. For the rape and molestation of a 3-year-old girl, Robinson was sentenced to 5,000 years for each of the six counts--a 30,000 year prison sentence. The jury recommended the 5,000 year sentences, which the judge ordered to be run consecutively, as a way of ensuring that Robinson would never be released from prison, because "life without parole" was  not a legally-appropriate sentence for his crimes. 

Two more men on the "longest sentences" list also were convicted in Oklahoma. In 1993, Allan McLaurin and Darron Anderson were convicted of rape, forcible sodomy, assault with a dangerous weapon, burglary, robbery, and larceny. McLaurin was sentenced to 21,250 years in prison. He appealed, and his sentence was reduced by 500 years. His accomplice, Anderson, was initially sentenced to 2,200. He also appealed, but at his second trial, he was again convicted, and this time sentenced to 11,250 years in prison--the longest sentence ever given as the result of an appeal

The record for the most life sentences is held by Bobby Joe Long, a serial rapist and murderer in Florida. Long became known as the "Classified Ad Rapist" after he would respond to ads about small appliances. If he found a woman alone in responding to the ad, he would rape her. He is accused of raping about 50 women, and he confessed to murdering 9 women, although police believe he is responsible for more murders. He was given one 5-year term, four 99-year term, and 28 life sentences; however, he also received a death sentence, so those other sentences won't matter much in the long run.

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