Supreme Court Rules that Juveniles with Life Sentences for Murder Must Have a Chance at Freedom

This week the U.S. Supreme Court in Montgomery v. Louisiana ruled that any juvenile sentenced to life imprisonment for murder must have a chance to argue for release.

In a 6-3 ruling the court held that its 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama which banned mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles must be applied retroactively. This will allow juveniles already imprisoned for life the opportunity for possible early release.

The ruling could impact 81 cases in Missouri where juveniles convicted of first degree murder have long exhausted their appeals. They could now get a new re-sentencing hearing or a possible parole hearing.

The Montgomery ruling continues a trend over the last decade in which the high court has ruled that crimes committed by youths under 18 must be treated differently than adults who commit the same crime.  The court views that juveniles are less mature than adults and more capable of rehabilitation.

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