On April 12, 2016, the Mississippi Court of Appeals decided Nathan Sinko v. State. This case dealt with parole eligibility for persons convicted of possession charges. As the opinion recounts, sometime in 2014, MDOC informed inmates convicted of possession charges that it had erroneously assigned them parole dates but this was a mistake based on the Court of Appeals’ decision in McGovern v. MDOC, 89 So.3d 69 (Miss. 2011). Under this decision, persons convicted of possession of substances other than marijuana were not eligible for parole.
Sinko filed for post conviction relief alleging he would not have pleaded guilty had he been told his sentence was without parole. The trial court denied any relief. On appeal, he argues that he is eligible for parole as a result of statutory amendments that went into effect on July 1, 2014. The Court of Appeals found that the legislation enacted in 2014 allows for parole for “‘amounts specified under Section 41-29-139(b)’ for controlled substances other than marijuana, including methamphetamine.”
As such, the Court of Appeals reversed for the determination of parole eligibility.