High Court Considers Age Cutoffs for Enhanced Sentencing

Nov 16, 2015

The Iowa Supreme Court meets at Valley High School in West Des Moines tonight where it will consider whether an enhanced sentence is constitutional if the initial crime committed occurred when the offender was a minor.

In 2013, Donald Reed of Waterloo was given a 100-year prison sentence, with the possibility of parole after a third of the time served, for convictions on drug-related charges. This was an enhanced sentenced due to a previous drug offense he committed at age 17. 

Reed says since he was a minor when he committed the first crime, it should not have been considered during sentencing. That’s because the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that a man charged with statutory rape could not be subjected to an enhanced sentence, because his initial crime of first-degree sexual assault was committed at age 12. 

The state argues that, in part, because Reed was not a preteen, but rather "just shy" of becoming a legal adult at the time of his first offense, the enhanced sentence is constitutional.

Last year the court ruled that subjecting minors to mandatory minimums was unconstitutional because of a young person's greater capacity for rehabilitation, and scientific data on neurological development suggests that, "juvenile culpability does not rise to the adult-like standard the mandatory minimum provision...presupposes."

In addition to the question on enhanced sentencing, the court may also consider whether the evidence presented at Reed's trial was sufficient to support the convictions, and whether his counsel was ineffective.