Saw the original sentence for Adnan Syed and I couldn't understand why it's life AND 30 years. What does that mean?
Syed was convicted of two crimes: first-degree murder and kidnapping. In many American court systems, including civilian criminal courts in the state of Maryland, convicts receive a sentence for each offense. They don't get one overall sentence to address all their crimes. Sentencing guidelines may make sentence calculation work by computing one sentence for all the offenses, but the sentence is actually imposed by specifying a certain sentence for each offense and setting them to run concurrently or consecutively to match the guidelines sentence.
The judge gave Syed life on the murder charge, but he also needed a sentence for kidnapping. The judge picked the maximum of 30 years. Thus, life plus 30. The sentences can run either concurrently or consecutively; if one sentence is life, that isn't necessarily an important issue, but it could potentially have parole implications.
I've always believed one of the core reasons for the sentence per offence approach is that each victim, community, and society at large will have justice provided on their behalf regarding the offence committed against them.
For example should someone have their brother murdered as part of a serial of homocides the person, community, and society, would still receive a recognition and recompense from the justice system in the form of the sentencing even if the practicalities of multiple life sentences mean that not all the allotted time would be served.