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habitual offender

person who frequently has been convicted of criminal behaviour and is presumed to be a danger to society. In an attempt to protect society from such criminals, penal systems throughout the world provide for lengthier terms of imprisonment for them than for first-time offenders. In the 1990s habitual-offender laws became harsher, and in extreme cases some offenders were detained permanently.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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