September 14, 2009 — A University of Virginia law student and a recent U.Va. law graduate placed in a writing competition sponsored by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Third-year student Dawn Miller won second place for "Sentencing Elderly Criminal Offenders," while May graduate Caroline Klosko won third place for "Evaluating the Tests for Determining the Wishes of an Incompetent Patient."
The papers will be published in the next issue of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys student journal
The awards marked the third consecutive year that students in law professor Thomas White's Aging and the Law course have won awards.
"I work at encouraging students to write interesting papers," White said. "I think that the quality of the papers has improved over the last few years as this competition has become better known. But our students are very good, and some write very well. So their work is competitive at all levels."
Miller said her paper surveyed the arguments for and against lenient sentencing for elderly criminal offenders.
"I decided that it makes sense to have somewhat of an age-neutral approach," Miller said. While a judge should consider the health of the offender, "don't just look at age as a number in sentencing a person."
Miller said it matters more to take into account the usual factors judges consider when handing down a sentence, like deterring other crimes, rehabilitation and retribution.
"You really have to look more at the whole person," she said.