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5 Longest Prison Sentences in U.S. History

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes was recently sentenced to over 3,000 years in prison on top of 12 life terms. That could sound lenient (he did avoid the death penalty) or needlessly excessive (he'll never serve that many years). But his is only the fourth-longest prison sentence in United States history.

Who's gotten a longer prison sentence? Here are the top five:

1. Charles Scott Robinson: 30,000 years

Oklahoma child rapist Charles Scott Robinson owns the record for the longest jail term given to a single person on multiple counts. On December 23, 1994, Robinson was sentenced to 30,000 years in prison -- 5,000 years for each of the six counts against him.

2. Allan Wayne McLaurin: 21,250 years

McLaurin was the accomplice of Darron Bennalford Anderson who himself received "the greatest amount of jail time given as a result of an appeal." Anderson, also from Oklahoma, was found guilty in 1994 of crimes ranging from rape of an elderly woman to larceny, robbery, and kidnapping, and originally sentenced to 2,200 years. He appealed, won a new trial, and was convicted again, only this time the jury sentenced Anderson to 11,250 years, adding 6,300 to his sentence. He appealed again in 1997 and got the parole date for the year 12,744.

McLaurin's original sentence of 21,250 years was reduced by 500 years on appeal.

3. Dudley Wayne Kyzer: 10,000 years

Alabama's Dudley Wayne Kyzer was sentenced to 10,000 years for killing his wife in 1981. Kyzer was also convicted of killing his mother-in-law and a college student who just happened to be at the same house on Halloween in 1976. He was also given life sentences for each of the murders on top of the 10,000 years. The judge justified his verdict in the name of the brutality of the murders and he has been denied parole 9 times.

4. James Eagan Holmes: 12 life sentences and 3,318 years without parole

Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012. He was sentenced to 12 life terms for each murder, plus 3,318 more years in prison for additional counts of attempted murder, one count of possessing an illegal explosive device, and one sentence enhancement of a crime of violence.

5. Bobbie Joe Long: 28 life sentences, 99 years, and 1 death sentence

Bobbie Joe Long from Florida was given 28 life sentences, an additional 99 years of imprisonment, and a death sentence for raping over 50 women and killing more than 25 of them. He would answer classified ads for small appliances, and if he found a woman home alone, he would rape her.

While sending people to prison for sentences longer than their life may seem strange, sentences of hundreds and even thousands of years can be the result of a jury's verdict, combined with mandatory sentencing laws, or the judge's discretion regarding the nature of some of these very terrible crimes.   

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