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Evelyn Patterson — The Role of Life Expectancy in Fair Sentencing

Thursday, November 3, 2022

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, 111 Thayer Street

Reception to follow.

What constitutes a de facto “life” sentence? This is the question courts throughout the country continue to try to answer in response to several Supreme Court rulings. The Supreme Court decision, Graham v. Florida began the formal legal departure from sentencing juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Montgomery v. Louisiana determined that the decision applied retroactively, giving 2,000 inmates serving life without parole sentences the opportunity for resentencing. The current work uses formal demography to address one of the key challenges in resentencing by determining what constitutes a de facto life sentence since any sentence that exceeds the life expectancy of an individual violates the terms of Graham.

Watson Institute Research Seminar Series

Evelyn Patterson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Law School at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Patterson received her a joint PhD in Demography and Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Patterson’s research, which has received awards from the American Sociological Association and the Population Association of America, has appeared in a broad array of journals including Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Demography, Law and Society Review, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and International Migration Review. The focus of her current scholarship includes a critical examination of race as it relates to maternal mortality, policing, physical and mental health, and familial incarceration. She is also studying the differential impact of criminal law and enforcement on the demography of marginalized populations.