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I came across the following:

I've seen ... women on their way to visit boyfriends who are doing five to ten for one thing or another.

What does "doing five to ten for one thing or another" mean in this context?

Google was distinctly unhelpful to me.

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Their boyfriends are doing between 5 and 10 years in prison, for various crimes. – FumbleFingers Jul 12 '12 at 11:12
@FumbleFingers That makes sense, thank you. If you add it as an answer, I might even accept it :) – Michael Kjörling Jul 12 '12 at 11:21
@Michael Kjörling: To be honest, I'm ambivalent about whether it's General Reference or not - but you've got your answer, and I don't begrudge Noah the points if you accept his. – FumbleFingers Jul 12 '12 at 12:04
up vote 5 down vote accepted

As @FumbleFingers said, it means that their boyfriends are doing between 5 and 10 years in prison for various crimes that they have committed. "One thing or another" or "one thing and another" is an expression used to cover various unspecified matters or things, in this case various crimes.

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No offence meant, but I love the idea of unsficified. 'The Lord of the Engagement Rings'? 'The Moon is a Harsh Light-Reflector'? – TimLymington Jul 12 '12 at 12:22
@Tim, it certainly looks like a powerful word but isn't English so I edited it – jwpat7 Jul 12 '12 at 17:47

It is referring to the prison sentence that someone received for some crime. Almost all sentences have a minimum and maximum length. The shorter is the length of time that they must stay in before they can be eligible for parole, but there are other things that can be done to get them out earlier. The longer length is the time they will be released if they never made parole (for that particular sentence).

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