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What’s the Longest Prison Sentence Ever Received?

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Late last week, Ariel Castro—who kidnapped Amanda Berry, Georgina "Gina" DeJesus and Michelle Knight and kept them prisoner in his Cleveland home and raped and abused them for years—was sentenced to life plus 1000 years in prison without the possibility of parole. How does a millennium and then some stack up against other stints in the clink?

In the grand scheme of things, Castro got a slap on the wrist. Juan Corona was given one life sentence for each of the 25 migrant farm workers he murdered between 1970 and 1971 in California. (When Corona was born in 1934, American males had a life expectancy of around 61 years, so if you wanted to quantify all those life sentences, it’s 1525 years).*

After being convicted for a long list of murders, assaults, rapes and kidnappings, Florida serial killer Bobbie Joe Long received one five-year sentence, four 99-year sentences, 28 life sentences and one death sentence in 1985/1986 (again, using Long’s life expectancy at year of birth, you can put a number on those life sentences—he’s looking at a grand total of 2305 years).

Darron Bennalford Anderson was sentenced to 2200 years for rape, robbery and kidnapping in Oklahoma in 1993. When he appealed, got a new trial and was convicted again, the court added a few thousand years to his original sentence—bringing the total just beyond 11,000 years. After another appeal, he got a measly 500 years knocked off.

The longest sentence actually handed down in court that we could find was given to Oklahoma child rapist Charles Scott Robinson in 1994 (between Anderson, Robinson and Timothy McVeigh, the Sooner State was apparently a terrifying place to be in the early 1990s). He got 30,000 years, or 5,000 for each of the six counts for which he was convicted.

Even Robinson’s sentence seems like nothing compared to the punishment Spanish prosecutors were pushing for in Gabriel Granados’ 1972 trial. The mailman was charged with failure to deliver 42,768 letters, and the state’s attorneys wanted to hit him with 9 years for each piece of mail, or 384,912 years altogether. The judge decided to give him a slightly shorter sentence of 14 years and two months, instead.

A life sentence means you stay in prison for the rest of your life or until you’re paroled. If Corona is actually a vampire or immortal, he doesn’t get released at the end of the 1525th year—this is just for the sake of comparing sentence lengths. We would love to see this plot explored in a supernatural prison drama on HBO, though.

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Why Does the Queen Have Two Birthdays?
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CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images

On April 21, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will turn 92 years old. To mark the occasion, there are usually a series of gun salutes around London: a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park, and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London. For the most part, the monarch celebrates her big day privately. But on June 9, 2018, Her Majesty will parade through London as part of an opulent birthday celebration known as Trooping the Colour.

Queen Elizabeth, like many British monarchs before her, has two birthdays: the actual anniversary of the day she was born, and a separate day that is labeled her "official" birthday (usually the second Saturday in June). Why? Because April 21 is usually too cold for a proper parade.

The tradition started in 1748, with King George II, who had the misfortune of being born in chilly November. Rather than have his subjects risk catching colds, he combined his birthday celebration with the Trooping the Colour.

The parade itself had been part of British culture for almost a century by that time. At first it was strictly a military event, at which regiments displayed their flags—or "colours"—so that soldiers could familiarize themselves. But George was known as a formidable general after having led troops at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, so the military celebration seemed a fitting occasion onto which to graft his warm-weather birthday. Edward VII, who also had a November birthday, was the first to standardize the June Trooping the Colour and launched a tradition of a monarchical review of the troops that drew crowds of onlookers.

Even now, the date of the "official" birthday varies year to year. For the first seven years of her reign, Elizabeth II held her official birthday on a Thursday but has since switched over to Saturdays. And while the date is tied to the Trooping the Colour in the UK, Commonwealth nations around the world have their own criteria, which generally involve recognizing it as a public holiday.

Australia started recognizing an official birthday back in 1788, and all the provinces (save one) observe the Queen's Birthday on the second Monday in June, with Western Australia holding its celebrations on the last Monday of September or the first Monday of October.

In Canada, the official birthday has been set to align with the actual birth date of Queen Victoria—May 24, 1819—since 1845, and as such they celebrate so-called Victoria Day on May 24 or the Monday before.

In New Zealand, it's the first Monday in June, and in the Falkland Islands the actual day of the Queen's birth is celebrated publicly.

All in all, just another reason it's great to be Queen.

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What Is the Meaning Behind "420"?
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Whether or not you’re a marijuana enthusiast, you’re probably aware that today is an unofficial holiday for those who are. April 20—4/20—is a day when pot smokers around the world come together to, well, smoke pot. Others use the day to push for legalization, holding marches and rallies.

But why the code 420? There are a lot of theories as to why that particular number was chosen, but most of them are wrong. You may have heard that 420 is police code for possession, or maybe it’s the penal code for marijuana use. Both are false. There is a California Senate Bill 420 that refers to the use of medical marijuana, but the bill was named for the code, not the other way around.

As far as anyone can tell, the phrase started with a bunch of high school students. Back in 1971, a group of kids at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California, got in the habit of meeting at 4:20 to smoke after school. When they’d see each other in the hallways during the day, their shorthand was “420 Louis,” meaning, “Let’s meet at the Louis Pasteur statue at 4:20 to smoke.”

Somehow, the phrase caught on—and when the Grateful Dead eventually picked it up, "420" spread through the greater community like wildfire. What began as a silly code passed between classes is now a worldwide event for smokers and legalization activists everywhere—not a bad accomplishment for a bunch of high school stoners.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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