Tuesday, January 9, 2018
This is the thirty-first 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 New Jersey treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.
Last year, New Jersey passed New Jersey Senate Bill 3079.
Under the bill, juveniles who received a sentence of 30 years or more imprisonment without parole eligibility may petition the Superior Court to have their sentences reviewed. A juvenile offender who was convicted of murder is required to serve at least 30 years of his or her sentence before being eligible for the hearing. A juvenile offender who was convicted of any other criminal offense is required to serve at least 20 years before becoming eligible. Juvenile offenders who have a conviction of murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, or carjacking that was committed after turning 18 years old would not be eligible to have their sentences reviewed under the bill.
Therefore, New Jersey has banned juvenile life without parole sentences. As a result, New Jersey treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.