Barry Beach’s Sentence
Barry Beach was sentenced for the crime of deliberate homicide to a term of imprisonment of 100 years. Barry Beach was a juvenile at the time that Kim Nees was murdered.
According to the 2002 United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics for felony sentences in state courts for year 2002, 24.1% of individuals convicted of murder received life sentences in state courts for that year. The average prison term in 2002 for a murder conviction was 142 months.
According to the Montana Department of Correction’s 2005 report to the legislature, the average length of incarceration for males convicted of violent crimes in Montana in 2004 was 76.1 months (the average length of sentence in 1994 in Montana was 55.4 months).
A review has been conducted of sentences imposed for homicides in the state of Montana dating back to the 1970s. The pool included 388 cases. Of those 388 cases, only 25, including Barry Beach’s case, involved an offender who was less than 18 years old at the time of the offense. Of those 25 offenders who were less than 18, between the years 1980 and 1985 there were eight juvenile offenders who were less than 18 at the time of their offenses.
Only three received sentences of life with no parole, including Barry Beach. Out of the 25 juveniles sentenced for deliberate homicide between the 1970s and 2005, it appears that only three received no parole sentences of 100 years. Those three are Beach and two offenders convicted of multiple homicides (Steve Keefe and K. Hans). Not withstanding the fact that Barry Beach was wrongfully convicted in the first place, the conclusion to be reached from a review of the sentences imposed for deliberate homicide in the last 30 years is that the sentence imposed upon Barry Beach was extraordinarily severe in relation to other sentences for similar crimes with offenders having similar age at the time of the offense.
*Note: On November 20th, 2015, Barry Beach was released from Montana State Prison by Governor Steve Bullock. However, he remains on probation for a period of 10 years with the Montana Department of Corrections. We still work towards a full exoneration based on forensic evidence.