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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August 7, 2013 - 9:00am
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