Tuesday, January 23, 2018
This is the forty-sixth in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Virginia treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.Virginia still allows for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for a juvenile homicide offender. Section 19.2-303 of the Virginia Code, however, allows a court to “suspend the sentence in whole or part.” In Aldridge v. Commonwealth, 606 S.E.2d 539 (Va.App. 2004), the court suspended all but three years of the defendant’s sentence based on a first-degree murder conviction. Therefore, a juvenile homicide offender in Virginia could be released after serving three or more years of her sentence. As a result, Virginia treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.