Monday, January 1, 2018
This is the twenty-fifth 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 Mississippi treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.
Mississippi still allows courts to impose a sentence of life without parole for juvenile homicide offender. Mississippi courts, however, also have the option of sentencing a juvenile homicide offender to life with the possibility of parole subject to Section 47-7-3(1) of the Mississippi Code, which states that
Every prisoner who has been convicted of any offense against the State of Mississippi, and is confined in the execution of a judgment of such conviction in the Mississippi Department of Corrections for a definite term or terms of one (1) year or over, or for the term of his or her natural life, whose record of conduct shows that such prisoner has observed the rules of the department, and who has served not less than one-fourth (1/4) of the total of such term or terms for which such prisoner was sentenced, or, if sentenced to serve a term or terms of thirty (30) years or more, or, if sentenced for the term of the natural life of such prisoner, has served not less than ten (10) years of such life sentence, may be released on parole as hereinafter provided....
Therefore, a juvenile homicide offender can be eligible for parole after serving ten years. As a result, Mississippi treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.