How long should a criminal remain behind bars? Factors behind a minimum sentence

The Hawaii Paroling Authority decides the minimum time a criminal must serve before he or she is eligible for parole.

The authority looks at three main areas: the nature of the offense, the degree of injury or loss, and the offender’s criminal history.

On Friday, Steven Capobianco was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the murder of Carly “Charli” Scott.

When looking at the nature of the offense, the authority must consider: Was it a “callous and, or cruel disregard for the safety and welfare of others”?

As for degree or injury and loss, guidelines say the authority should consider if the victims suffered more than victims of similar crimes.

As for criminal history, Capobianco doesn’t have any convictions for other violent crimes.

Neither did Kirk Lankford. In 2008, he was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the death of Masumi Watanabe.

Like Scott, her body was never found.

In Lankford’s case, the paroling authority set his minimum sentence at 150 years.

“Fifty years is the maximum (minimum sentence) within the guidelines, but the board has full discretion to go lower or to go higher,” said Hawaii Paroling Authority chair Bert Matsuoka.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro supported the lengthy minimum sentence for Lankford and told us during a parole hearing back in 2014: “There’s a minimum date, but that doesn’t mean the defendant should be released. Some defendants should serve life in prison. They should be there for life.”

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