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The Longest Serving Prisoner In History Is Still Behind Bars After 71 Years

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The Longest Serving Prisoner In History Is Still Behind Bars After 71 Years

If you're serving a lifelong prison sentence, chances are you've done something pretty bad.

One TikToker, however, wanted to see who was the longest-serving prisoner of all time and in a viral video, he has revealed that two men have served time for more than 70 years, with one of them still living out his sentence. Check it out below:

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So who was at number one?

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94-year-old Francis Clifford Smith has been serving a lifelong sentence for over 71 years since his incarceration on June 7th 1950. Thought to be the oldest prisoner in Connecticut, Smith's crime was the murder of a night watchman during a robbery at a yacht club in July 1949 and he was, in fact, sentenced to death.

Thankfully - we guess - just hours before he was set to be executed, his sentence was changed to life imprisonment, in which he's served most of at the Osborn Correctional Institution, only to be moved to a nursing home last year.

Smith didn't spend all that time incarcerated, however.

Credit: TikTok/@dylanpage.ning
Credit: TikTok/@dylanpage.ning
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Greenwich Time reported that he escaped from prison in 1967 and he was released on parole for 10 months before committing a violation that put him back behind bars in 1975.

He also appealed for a new trial in the 1950s and made a further appeal in the 60s but was unsuccessful both times.

The length of his sentence has brought into question the purpose of holding people when they get to a certain age.

Zachary Frey, a Cornell University senior and freelance writer from Greenwich who has been researching Smith and other longtime prisoners, said to Greenwich Time that his case should be considered something of a mystery.

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"I don't know what the appropriate punishment should be - and there's a lot of evidence he didn't shoot Grover Hart - but he served it decades ago," Frey said.

Richard Sparaco, executive director of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, said: "Someone like that I would think at this point, is extremely 'institutionalized.' He has no sense of what the real world out there looks like."

Sadly, no pictures of Smith are known to exist online.

Credit: Unsplash/@grant_durr
Credit: Unsplash/@grant_durr
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A homeless French Australian, he was confined in the J Ward mental asylum in Ararat, Victoria after murdering an elderly man and stealing his boots. He died while still incarcerated at the age of 92 in 1974, 71 years after being jailed in 1903.

And as for second place? Well, Smith is joined in the 70 year-plus club by Charles Fossard.

Rounding out the top five are Paul Geidel Jr. who served 69 years and 245 days before being released in 1980 aged 86. He died in 1987.

He's joined by John Phillips, who served just nine days fewer for raping a five-year-old girl in North Carolina. Sentenced in 1953, he was released on parole on 9 March of this year. It ends in 2026.

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And finally, there's Joseph Ligon who served 67 years and 54 days from being sentenced when he was just 15-years-old for murder. He was released in February of this year.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash/@ansleycreative

Topics: Prisoner, US News, crime, TikTok

Simon Catling
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