indeterminate sentence

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An indeterminate sentence is a type of custodial sentence that consists of a range of years (such as five to ten years) and not a fixed time, which means the convicted person's release date is left open. After spending a certain amount of time in prison, the state parole board holds a hearing to determine whether the convicted person is eligible for parole. The principle behind an indeterminate sentence is the hope that prison will rehabilitate some prisoners; and those who show the progress will be paroled (conditional release) and might not have to spend the remaining sentence in prison. 

Compare: determinant sentence 

[Last updated in April of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]