COA grants relief on parole issue in possession cases

Among the many cases handed down today is an opinion in Nathan Sinko v. State regarding 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), persons convicted of possession of substances other than marijuana were not eligible for parole.

Sinko filed a pcr 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 finds 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.”

The decision to grant parole does not rest with this Court. See Lizana v. Miss. Dep’t of Corr., 910 So. 2d 31, 34 (¶10) (Miss. Ct. App. 2005). Therefore, we hold only that Sinko’s conviction for manufacturing methamphetamine does not render him ineligible for parole. See Keys, 67 So. 3d at 761 (¶¶12-13). Although the record on appeal is limited, that appears to have been the only reason that Sinko was deemed ineligible for parole in 2014. It also appears that by that time the Parole Board had already determined that Sinko should be paroled on September 22, 2014. Given that Sinko was scheduled to be paroled more than eighteen months ago, MDOC and the Parole Board are directed to act as expeditiously as possible to take any steps necessary to re-determine Sinko’s eligibility for parole; assuming he is deemed eligible for parole, to issue a decision granting or denying parole; and if he is granted parole, to release him on parole. On this basis, we reverse and render.

2 thoughts on “COA grants relief on parole issue in possession cases

    • My husband is Nathan Sinko, and his charge was manufacture of meth and possession. Possession was always eligible for parole but MDOC all of a sudden said sale & manufacture were not eligible. Court of appeals ruled that Nathan was eligible on his manufacturing charge. Also the governor signed HB107 on May 13, 2016 that states inmates convicted between 1995 and July 2014 of sale and manufacture are eligible for parole and it went into effect the day it was signed.

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