Indentured servants served 2-7 years in return for their passage to the New World. Many were treated harshly, and, as the source below points out, their punishment for actions such as running away or, in the of case of female indentured servants, getting pregnant, could result in additional time on their contracts of servitude.
However, indentured servants were treated better than slaves. Some indentured servants received land when their contracts were over. Slaves did not have this advantage, and, over time, slavery became an increasingly brutal system. The elite of Virginia and other colonies began to impose a harsh color line that differentiated between indentured servitude, which did not last forever, and slavery, which became a life-long condition. Slaves were black, while indentured servants became entirely white. Slaves were not allowed to claim their freedom, and, unlike the children of indentured servants, their children were born into the brutality of slavery.