The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in the case of Montgomery v. Louisiana. This case revolves around whether the Miller v. Alabama case (in which the Court ruled on in 2012) can be applied to retroactively. Miller v. Alabama found that states may not sentence a juvenile to life sentences without parole. Justice Kennedy delivered the majority opinion while Justice Scalia issued a dissenting opinion which Justices Thomas and Scalia joined.
The Montgomery case is best understood as an additional limitation on juvenile sentencing. In essence, even where a juvenile commits murder, he or she may not be sentenced to life without parole. The Court suggested the only way that such a sentence would stand is if the offender shows absolutely no hope for reform.
The real world impact of Montgomery is that many inmates who are serving sentences imposed while they were juveniles may have their sentences reversed. Since the majority of the court found that the Miller case should apply retroactively, these inmates may have a chance to reopen their cases to have the sentencing decision reviewed. Apparently, the standard as to whether a sentence violates Montgomery is whether the youth showed no signs of redemption. Interestingly, inmates may be able to use good behavior while incarcerated to refute that they were beyond rehabilitation.
The subject at the heart of the case, Montgomery, is a 69 year old serving a life sentence for murder. He was sentenced in the early 60’s when he was just seventeen years old. Montgomery is now in a position where he might be able to secure a relase from prison due to the now declared unconstitutional sentence.
If you think this case might affect your situation, contact an criminal defense attorney to see if it applies. Juvenile cases can be complicated, so make sure to seek an a lawyer who is familiar with the juvenile court system.