Life imprisonment in Finland

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In Finland, life imprisonment is a particular type of punishment, which lasts for the remainder of a convict's life; it currently consisting of imprisonment in closed prison and possible periods of imprisonment in halfway house, supervised parole and full parole.

After the Second World War, the death penalty was abolished for ordinary crimes and life without parole, which had been an alternative for the death penalty in wartime, became the sole maximum sentence. From 1948 until 2006 there were two types of life sentences in Finland, life without parole (f. elinkautinen vankeusrangaistus) for first degree murder, aggravated high treason, aggravated treason and aggravated espionage and life with parole (f. eristäminen pakkolaitokseen) for repeat offenders in aggravated violent crimes. The latter system about parolable life sentences was somewhat similar to some versions of "three strikes" laws in the U.S.A. In practice, many life prisoners had their sentences commuted by the President, after serving 10–20 years of it, allowing parole even in cases where the original sentence was not meant to have possibility of parole at all[citation needed].

In 2006, life imprisonment was abolished altogether in "repeat offender" cases, to be replaced with determinate sentences up to 15 years of which at least 5/6 has to be served [1] and life without parole was replaced, even retroactively, with life imprisonment with possibility of parole after 12 years served, in murder cases.[2] There were no convicts at the time serving life without parole for any other crime than first degree murder.

Currently, Helsinki Court of Appeals (Helsingin hovioikeus) acts as Parole Board and a life prisoner is considered for parole after serving 12 years.[3] If the parole is rejected, a new parole hearing is scheduled in 2 years. If the parole is accepted, 3 years of supervised parole follows until full parole, assuming no violations. If the convict was less than 21 years of age when they committed the crime, the first parole hearing is after 10 years served. Juveniles cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment in Finland, the maximum penalty for an offender who was under 18 years of age is 15 years, with possibility of parole after 7½ years.[citation needed].


  1. ^ Finland's Penal Code, chapter 2c, 11§
  2. ^ Criminal Code of Finland (in Finnish)
  3. ^ Finland's Penal Code, chapter 2c, 10§, [1], Releasing of long-term prisoners Act (781/2005), [2]