Dozens of Colorado juvie lifers could be eligible for parole

Georgia Reed
August 1, 2017

The change comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled previous year that a ban on mandatory life without parole for juveniles should apply to those already serving such sentences.

There also are some 20 inmates serving discretionary no-parole sentences for crimes committed while they were 17 or younger. Then previous year, the court made its ruling retroactive, saying those already serving such sentences must be given a chance to show their crimes did not reflect "irreparable corruption" and, if they did not, have some hope for freedom.

Torres was initially sentenced to life without parole, but he was resentenced in 2014 to 110 years in prison, making him eligible for a sentence review and possible parole in 2019. To punish youths with the same severity as adults and to then make those sentences mandatory - taking away any discretion to weigh each offender individually - fails to consider that difference or the potential for rehabilitation, the court said in determining that no-release sentences are unconstitutional for all but the rare juvenile whose crimes reflect "permanent incorrigibility".

The bill was introduced after a state Supreme Court ruling in January ordered resentencings for two men convicted of serious crimes they committed as juveniles.

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In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed mandatory life without parole for juveniles convicted of murder. No so-called juvenile lifers have been released on parole.

The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C. -based reform group, counts 283 inmates serving life without parole in California for crimes committed as minors; state prison officials put the count at 268. They argued that the three sentences should run together, so he'd be eligible for release after 30 years.

The rulings affect five men sentenced to life in New Hampshire.

There is at least one case in Tennessee courts that challenges the 51-year sentence.

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