In many countries, stipulated term criminal sentences (i.e., not indeterminate or "life") can be extremely long, well over a hundred years. The US is one well-known example.
Assuming all other things equal, I'm trying to base an idea around the realistic impact/fallout/events would be, flowing from a notorious US prisoner guilty of some hideous crime, simply failing to die after a reasonable number of decades, and with his/her prison term coming close to completion.
But this is a situation that's never arisen - such prisoners are implicitly assumed to always die in prison, unless pardoned, so I'm having issues figuring which way(s) the public fallout would go, once any posturing and untenable claims of what some politician will do, fall away, and public bodies and individuals have to start treating it seriously.
To give some flesh to the context:
- The prisoner was unambiguously guilty of some heinous crime(s). Could be murder, kidnap, arson, probably notorious or multiple. Think about cases like Manson (US), the Moors killers (UK), someone who pleaded guilty and took 150 years without parole, in return for not seeking death, and where the public sentiment is "never freed, over my dead body" even decades later.
- They've now served 138 years of it, and by the calendar are about 170 years old, but show no sign of age related loss of faculties or condition. An informal interview with their lawyer elicits the statement that they are looking forward to enjoying life again and making up for lost time - whatever that ambiguous statement means.
- Some people are intrigued. Others scared and demanding "something be done!"
Nobody really understands, and the prisoner either doesn't understand the reason themselves, or in any case refuses to discuss or give any consent to investigate while locked up. Its not even clear what their lifespan might be, and none of their deceased or distant living relatives seem to share this anomaly.
I'm a bit stuck figuring what realistic reactions might be, from today's executive and justice departments might be, or the prison service, if this happened. I imagine they would make statements about ensuring public safety and also note they can't do much - but as pressure grows and the situation gets a higher political profile, and senior political/departmental careers start to be on the line, we can expect more serious thought on it - but what would that be likely to comprise?