A landmark ruling by the nation's highest court gave Henry Montgomery his first chance at freedom after nearly a half-century behind bars. Two years later, the 71-year-old Louisiana man is still waiting for a parole hearing that could set him free. The AP reports Thursday marks the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling in Montgomery's favor. The decision enabled roughly 2,000 inmates to argue for their release after receiving mandatory life-without-parole sentences as juveniles. The court determined in 2012 the sentences are unconstitutional "cruel and unusual" punishment, and in the case of Montgomery v. Louisiana in 2016 decided the ruling should apply retroactively. Montgomery was 17 when he killed a sheriff's deputy in 1963.
The decision ushered in a wave of new sentences and the release of inmates from Michigan to Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and beyond. But other former teen offenders are still waiting for a chance at resentencing in states and counties that have been slow to address the court ruling, an AP investigation found. In Michigan, for example, prosecutors are seeking new no-parole sentences for nearly two-thirds of 363 juvenile lifers. The state judge who resentenced Montgomery to life with the possibility of parole said in June that he's a "model prisoner" who appears to be rehabilitated, but while Louisiana's parole board was scheduled to hear Montgomery's case on Dec. 14, the hearing has been postponed until Feb. 19.
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