Juveniles given life in prison can seek review, possibly parole, Supreme Court rules

By Doug G. Ware   |   Jan. 25, 2016 at 1:56 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Inmates who were sentenced to life imprisonment as juveniles should be able to file for a re-evaluation -- and possibly attain parole, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

In a 6-to-3 ruling, the high court ruled a 2012 decision prohibiting minors from being sentenced to life in prison without parole should be retroactive to include all applicable cases.

In delivering the opinion for the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the ruling doesn't automatically grant parole -- just the right to a review, which could lead to parole.

The 2012 decision stemmed from a lawsuit brought by a man who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1963 as a 17-year-old boy convicted of killing a Louisiana sheriff's deputy.

"The opportunity for release will be afforded to those who demonstrate the truth of [the case's] central intuition -- that children who commit even heinous crimes are capable of change," Kennedy said.

Dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia said the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to decide the matter. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito joined him in dissent.

The Supreme Court's ruling Monday reverses a decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court and sends the case back to lower courts.

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