Tuesday, December 19, 2017
This is the fifteenth 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 Indiana treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.
In Indiana, the court can give a juvenile convicted of first-degree murder a sentence of life without parole. The court also has the option of sentencing a juvenile to a fixed sentence of between 45 and 65 years incarceration. Pursuant to Indiana's Credit Time Calculator, a person convicted of murder can get sentencing credit as follows
A person (1) who is not a credit restricted felon; and (2) who is imprisoned for a crime other than a Level 6 felony or misdemeanor (i.e. Murder, Levels 1-5) or imprisoned awaiting trial or sentencing for a crime other than a Level 6 felony or misdemeanor (i.e. Murder, Levels 1-5). Serve 3 actual days; earn 1 credit day.
What this means is that the court has the option of sentencing a juvenile homicide offender to 45 years imprisonment. If my math is right, after that person served 33 years, 274 days, that person could get sentencing credit of 11 years 91 days, which equals 45 years. Therefore, in Indiana, the court has the option of giving a juvenile homicide offender a sentence that could result in her release after serving 33 years, 274 days. As a result, Indiana treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee, where juvenile homicide offenders must serve a minimum of 51 years.