Joran Van Der Sloot Sentenced to 28 Years

Update: Joran Van der Sloot has been sentenced to 28 years. He was given credit for the time he has served since his arrest in June, 2010. His release date is June, 2038.

Joran Van der Sloot will be sentenced at 10 am Lima time. The prosecution has asked for 30 years but the judges should give him something off that for having plead guilty and allowing the trial to conclude early. If they do, it could be anywhere from 1 to 10 years less, and I suspect they will lean towards a minimal amount. Regardless of what the sentence is, he can serve a lot less, due to Peru's statutory good time credits. Those convicted of murder are eligible for parole after serving 1/3 of their sentence. In addition, if they work or take educational programs, they get 1 day off for every two days spent in the program. (Added: This may have been changed in October, 2010, see below, but the change may not apply to Joran since the crime was committed before this date.)[More]

Peru's criminal procedure code is relatively new (2004)and still being implemented -- as well as revised by Congress and interpreted by the courts. As best I can tell, the only exceptions to those able to get generous good time reductions are those convicted of terrorism, bribery, major drug traffickers and repeat offenders, who have to serve either 1/2 or 3/4 of their terms and get less good time (5 to 1 or 7 to 1 instead of 2:1.) Those convicted of sexual assault on a child get nothing, and the courts in Peru just upheld that in the last few weeks.

(Added: Apparently the law was changed in October 2010 as to murder under Section 108, which gives only 5 to 1 days off. Artículo 2 de la Ley Nº 29604, publicada el 22 octubre 2010.)
Article 46 .- Special cases of redemption

In cases of inmates who have committed primary offenses under Articles 108, 121-A, 121-B, 189, 200, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332 and 346 of the Penal Code, redemption of the sentence through work or education takes place at a rate of one day for five days worth of actual work or study in your case.


...Application: Modifications made to the prison benefits referred to in this Act are applicable only to those convicted of crimes committed after its effective date. They can not be applied retroactively to those convicted before the effective date of this Act.

[Added:According to Time, the Judge at today's sentencing said Joran "did not present indications of psychosis or other mental problems." So any attempt by the victim's family to deny him prison benefits should fail.]

Good time decisions are unlikely to come up at today's sentencing. Parole or conditional release is neither automatic or up to the INPE. It's up to the Court. The inmate has to apply when he reaches his eligibility date, submit the proper paperwork, and then a judge decides.

As I understand it,if the 2:1 work/study benefit rule applies, here's an example: If Joran gets a 27 year sentence (a 3 year reduction to acknowledge his "conclusio anticipado" of the case through pleading guilty,) he would be eligible to apply for conditional release after 1/3, or 9 years. But if he works or takes educational programs, he'll get 1 day off for every day in the program. Assuming he worked or took courses during the first four years of his sentence, he'll get 2 years more off, which would make him eligible for parole after 7 years instead of 9. Since he's got 18 plus months in for pre-trial confinement, that would bring his sentence down to 5 1/2 years left to serve on a 27 year sentence.

(Added: Again, this is assuming the 2010 change doesn't apply to him.]

One problem for Joran may be the U.S. extradition request on the Alabama extortion charge. It doesn't seem like Peru allows parole for those with detainers. It's also unclear when Peru would send him to the U.S. It appears they could do it whenever they want, including now, so long as the U.S. promises to return him. If he leaves Peru for a U.S. prison, his parole eligibility date in Peru could be set back for the time he was gone.

The latest press release from the Minister of Public Affairs in Peru makes very clear what he's being sentenced for today: Homocidio Califado (murder with special circumstances) and Hurto Simple (Simple theft.) He has no prior criminal record. Whether his confession was "sincere" or not, allowing up to a 1/3 reduction at the outset, is not really important, since he can get a reduction for his early conclusion to the case.

Joran could use some treatment for his PTSD or anger management issues, but given Peru's over-crowded, under-staffed prisons, I doubt it will be available to him.

I don't think the Court hears arguments at the sentencing hearing. I don't even know if Joran gets to speak, although I think he should be be given the ability to do so. The three judges will have already decided on the sentence and the purpose of the hearing is to announce it.

In arriving at their sentence, the judges will have considered the admitted facts of the case and what the prosecutor's investigation showed, and Joran's history and personal characteristics (age, lack of prior record, educational level, family history), and the interests of the victim and her family.

The judges also consider "aggravating circumstances." It seems to me those have already been accounted for by his plea to the greater offense of Homicido Califido rather than simple murder or murder by violent emotion, but they may factor in when deciding how much above the minimum to give him.

Recidivism also constitutes an aggravating circumstance but that doesn't apply to Joran.

In mitigation, the judges can consider his honest confession, his Age, education, economic and social environment; the social deprivation he will suffer; and hopefully for him, whether, as his lawyer alleged during the plea hearing, his PTSD or other psychological issues that contributed to his committing the murder.

The other possible wrench for Joran, as I said above, is in the event the judges decide he's a security risk, meaning his crime and personality are such that the judges believe there is a high likelihood he'll commit another crime. However, the law also provides for what it calls "proportionality" which means any security measures imposed must be proportionate to the danger he poses, the severity of the offense he committed and the likelihood he'll commit another serious offense if not treated.

Ultimately, it's up to INPE as to where he will serve his sentence. They have to do an evaluation, which can take 30 days. They then score him, based on the usual factors, and decide where he goes. More details are available in this publication. The actual manual (2011) is here. Based on the crime, it would seem like he'll be in maximum somewhere, but I'd be surprised if they sent him to the hinterlands which seem to be used mostly for terrorists, major drug traffickers and the worst of the worst. Murder is not categorized with these crimes in Peru.

Please keep in mind that while I have read all the statutes and case law a few times, as well as some legal treatises, I am not fluent in Spanish and Google Translator offers only marginal help.

Joran was 17 when The Holloway incident happened for which he has never claimed responsibility and was never charged. As to the Alabama extortion charge, they set him up like a bowling pin. His father died, he he was an outcast. His life was forever changed by events in Aruba and he took off-- with meager amounts of money, trying to win pots of gold via poker. I'm not defending his actions, just pointing out as I do with young people charged in this country, locking them up without a key is the worst policy, for us and society.

If you care to respond, please do, but (1) no personal attacks on Joran and (2) leave Ms. and Mrs. H. and his Angel Guardian out since Joran, not them, is the topic of this post and it's about the legal proceedings, not the crme per se, excepthow it affects the judges sentencing decision. Thanks.

The Peru criminal code is here. The new criminal procedure code is here. The INPE Prison Procedures Manual is here. A good treatise on prison benefits is here.

(The INPE website is back on line. Late last night, it had been hacked. Here's what the front page looked like.)

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  • Display: Sort:
    Prison Life (none / 0) (#1)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 11:45:36 AM EST
    Just a note on VDS's appearance, which is an observation, not an attack.

    He used to look like some goofball I would have hung out with in school, now, looking like a dangerous thug.  Prison has been hard on him, what's he been a year and half, and he looks like he's aged a decade and hardened an lifetime.

    There that old adage, "Don't so the crime if you can't do the time."  I doubt many people could do the time where he's at, and if he has mental issues, that time is going to kill him, maybe even literally.

    To Jeralyn: (none / 0) (#2)
    by Krstn on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 02:16:44 PM EST
    Wondering if he will serve out his sentence in Castro Castro & kept in segregation...or will he be sent somewhere else & be housed with general population?

    correction (none / 0) (#3)
    by Krstn on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 02:21:52 PM EST

    He is at Castro Castro (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 02:52:59 PM EST
    the courtroom where the proceedings take place at Lurancho.

    Where he serves his sentence is determined by the Technical Classification Board which will evaluate him. It can take 30 days. It's done according to a scoring system that takes into account a lot of factors. The procedures are in the Reglamento del Código de Ejecución Penal (2010 version here, a summary of the changes since 2006 is here.

    He should stay in maximum security somewhere, there's no way to know where it will be. I don't think he'll go to the worst of the worst which is usually reserved for terrorists and the like. They also like to keep foreigners together. They continuously monitor progress and write reports every 6 months. After 3 good reports, he could be eligible for a reduction in classification.


    Joran's options (none / 0) (#5)
    by jane on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 03:13:32 PM EST
    If Joran had dared to plead "Not Guilty," I assume that an investigation would have been conducted by the judges, not by his defense attorney.  Would he have been responsible for the cost of the investigation?

    I still have serious doubts about his guilt based on what I consider to be a false confession and an incomplete videotape.  Did anyone happen to hear Stephany's cause of death from the coroner's report?  Early TV coverage said it was from blunt force trauma to the back of the head and neck, not strangulation.

    if he had pleaded not guilty (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 03:31:19 PM EST
    the family of Stephany Flores planned to present evidence he intended to rob her from the outset, based on emails found on his computer, and argue that the aggravated robbery statute applied (robbery followed by death) instead of simple theft, which carries life in prison. Some say that would have allowed the judges to modify the charges, and while they would have granted a continuance to allow him to defend against the new charge, it would have raised the ante considerably. The family previously asked for a change of charges but it was denied, and the prosecutor recommended against it. Apparently in Peru, the victim's attorney gets to present evidence at the trial. By pleading guilty, Joran prevented that possibility.