Nearly three years after he became perhaps the youngest Indianan ever sentenced to prison as an adult, Paul Henry Gingerich – given a second chance in the courts – has agreed to a plea deal that could set him free when he turns 18, reports the Indianapolis Star. At 12, Gingerich was sentenced as an adult to a 25-year prison term for a 2010 murder conspiracy in the shooting death of a friend’s stepfather. Even with credits for good behavior, that could have kept him in locked up until his mid-20s, with the final years likely spent in an adult prison.
The deal struck yesterday by his attorney and a prosecutor could see Gingerich, now 15, released on probation as early as 18 — so long as he continues to behave well in prison. Just as important to his family, the deal likely means Gingerich will never go to an adult prison, where the prisoners are older and their range of crimes more severe. The deal comes after Gingerich won an appeal for a retrial, but it is also being guided by what some refer to as “Paul’s Law,” a new state law granting the courts greater flexibility in blending aspects of juvenile and adult sentences. It also grants judges the leeway to revisit a juvenile’s case after sentencing — even to modify the terms for children showing progress toward rehabilitation.