Dozens of Colorado juvie lifers could be eligible for parole

Dozens of Colorado juvie lifers could be eligible for parole

Dozens of Colorado juvie lifers could be eligible for parole

Now 31, Priester is one of more than three dozen state inmates eligible for new sentences and a possible shot at release in the wake of Supreme Court decisions banning mandatory life without parole for minors.

Colorado has almost three dozen inmates who committed crimes as juveniles are serving virtual life sentences of 50 years or more, The Denver Post has reported. The Nevada law has made 24 offenders eligible to have their sentences reviewed and 19 remain in prison, including two who were originally sentenced to death, who are now sentenced to life without parole. Last year, the court said the ruling applied to the more than 2,000 inmates already serving such sentences nationwide, and that all but the rare irredeemable juvenile offender should have a chance at parole.

In 2014, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that sentences of life without parole were unconstitutional for juveniles, ordering that such inmates could request resentencing. The rulings say juveniles are different because of poor judgment based on their age, their susceptibility to negative influences and their greater capacity for change.

The court found that the harshest punishments levied against adult criminals may be unconstitutionally cruel and unusual for juveniles due to their lack of development and potential for change. But the court also noted "that rigorous consideration of an offender's youth is required in sentencing a juvenile to life without parole". But the multistep process doesn't guarantee a hearing, and California's justices ruled a year ago that it therefore fails to meet the Supreme Court's decisions.

The California District Attorneys Association opposes the bill, saying it's unfair to retroactively allow the same 25-year minimum penalty for no-parole felons as for those sentenced to lesser terms of 25-to-life.

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Since the rulings, OR has resentenced one man who had been given life without parole for a killing committed as a youth.

For now, petitions for resentencing hearings are handled differently from county to county and even between judges in the same courthouse.

Separately, the state's high court found in two other July decisions that it's OK in some cases for juveniles convicted of multiple crimes to serve consecutive sentences that effectively amount to life in prison.

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

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