The Nevada Supreme Court’s October ruling applying good time credits to the minimum sentence in a DUI case has now been applied to at least 16 additional inmate cases.
The Oct. 5 opinion in the conviction of Jessica Williams for hitting and killing six while driving under the influence ruled prison credits must be applied to her minimum three year sentence, not just to the maximum eight-year sentence she received on each of six counts.
The district court judges in hers and each of the other cases — all decided before the Williams decision — rejected that argument, saying lawmakers intended minimum sentences to be fully served before applying credits to reduce that term in prison.
But the Supreme Court disagreed pointing out in contrast to statutes mandating minimum sentences in major crimes, the statute under which she was sentenced is silent regarding parole eligibility.
It says simply violators would be punished by a minimum term of two years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years. Unlike statutes for many other crimes, it doesn’t specifically say parole eligibility begins only after the minimum is served.
Therefore, the court ruled Williams is allowed to deduct credits earned from her minimum sentences.
In a series of orders issued this week, the high court applied that same decision to 16 other convictions ranging from mayhem, attempted sexual assault and attempted murder to grand larceny and robbery, pointing out those statutes also fail to include language specifically mandating the inmate serve the full minimum time in prison before any sentence-reducing credits can be applied.
Many of those cases date back to the late 1990s and there are undoubtedly more cases in the high court that will have the same ruling applied to them.