Paroled for Life: Interviews with Parolees Serving Life Sentences


212 pages
ISBN 0-921586-89-2
DDC 364.6'3'092271





Reviewed by Christine Schmidt

Christine Schmidt specializes in law and sociology at Laurentian


This well-written and compelling book is a collection of two-part
interviews with nine people— eight men and a woman—who are serving
life sentences in Canada. The first half of each interview takes place
inside the prison before the offender is released on parole. Coping
mechanisms, barriers, hopes, the original offence, life history, and
recidivism are all addressed. What emerges is a candid portrait of life
inside Canada’s prisons and the various emotional processes that the
offender goes through when preparing for parole. The second half of the
interviews take place at least 10 years after the offender has been
granted parole. Here the offenders discuss how they are coping on the
outside, and make comparisons between their expectations and the reality
of being a “lifer” on parole. They also discuss their ongoing
relationship with their parole officers (and with the criminal justice
system as a whole) and how it affects their ability to cope with life on
the outside.

Paroled for Life raises some critical questions about how Canada’s
criminal justice system deals with serious offenders. Although written
from the standpoint of the offenders, the book does not attempt to
minimize their crimes. An excellent read for anyone interested in social
policy, social work, or criminology.


Murphy, P.J., Loyd Johnsen, and Jennifer Murphy., “Paroled for Life: Interviews with Parolees Serving Life Sentences,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,