EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: New Mexico

This is the thirty-second 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 Mexico treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee. 

 New Mexico still allows for a sentence of life without parole for juvenile homicide offenders. That said, New Mexico, currently has no juvenile offenders serving sentences of life without parole. In New Mexico, the court can also give a juvenile homicide offender a sentence of life with the possibility of parole. Section 31-21-10 of the New Mexico Statutes states that

An inmate of an institution who was sentenced to life imprisonment as the result of the commission of a capital felony, who was sentenced to life imprisonment as the result of a conviction for a first degree felony resulting in the death of a child, who was convicted of three violent felonies and sentenced pursuant to Sections 31-18-23 and  31-18-24 NMSA 1978 or who was convicted of two violent sexual offenses and sentenced pursuant to Subsection A of Section 31-18-25 NMSA 1978 and Section 31-18-26 NMSA 1978 becomes eligible for a parole hearing after he has served thirty years of his sentence.

Therefore, a juvenile homicide offender in New Mexico can be released after serving thirty years. As a result, New Mexico treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.



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