Friday, January 26, 2018
This is the forty-ninth 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 Wisconsin treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.
Wisconsin still allows for a juvenile life without parole sentence. Wisconsin Statutes Section 304.06(b), however, states that
Except as provided in s. 961.49 (2), 1999 stats., sub. (1m) or s. 302.045 (3), 302.05 (3) (b), 973.01 (6), or 973.0135, the parole commission may parole an inmate of the Wisconsin state prisons or any felon or any person serving at least one year or more in a county house of correction or a county reforestation camp organized under s. 303.07, when he or she has served 25 percent of the sentence imposed for the offense, or 6 months, whichever is greater. Except as provided in s. 939.62 (2m) (c) or 973.014 (1) (b) or (c), (1g) or (2), the parole commission may parole an inmate serving a life term when he or she has served 20 years, as modified by the formula under s. 302.11 (1) and subject to extension under s. 302.11 (1q) and (2), if applicable. The person serving the life term shall be given credit for time served prior to sentencing under s. 973.155, including good time under s. 973.155 (4). The secretary may grant special action parole releases under s. 304.02. The department or the parole commission shall not provide any convicted offender or other person sentenced to the department's custody any parole eligibility or evaluation until the person has been confined at least 60 days following sentencing.
Therefore, a juvenile homicide offender in Wisconsin could be released after serving twenty years. As a result, Wisconsin treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.