All Juvenile Lifers May Argue For Their Release, Supreme Court Rules


Teenagers sentenced to life imprisonment for murder must have a chance to argue that they be released from prison, the Supreme Court ruled today. The 6-to-3 ruling said the high court’s 2012 decision that struck down mandatory life imprisonment terms for juveniles must be applied retroactively, the Washington post reports. That would mean new sentencing or a chance to argue for parole, said Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority decision. The decision continues the trend of the court’s deciding that juveniles convicted of even the most heinous crimes must be treated differently from adults.

The case was brought by Henry Montgomery, who as a 17-year-old in 1963 shot and killed Louisiana Sheriff's Deputy Charles Hurt. Montgomery is now 69 and says his rehabilitation in prison should make him eligible to be considered for parole. The Louisiana Supreme Court rejected his claim. “Prisoners like Montgomery must be given the opportunity to show their crime did not reflect irreparable corruption; and, if it did not, their hope for some years of life outside prison walls must be restored,” Kennedy wrote. Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito dissented. Opinions in the case can be found here.

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