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More than 300 juvenile lifers in Michigan could get a shot at parole

Posted at 12:34 PM, Jan 25, 2016

DETROIT (AP) — More than 300 Michigan prisoners serving no-parole sentences will likely have an opportunity for release after a major decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The justices on Monday voted 6-3 to extend a ruling from 2012 that struck down automatic life terms with no chance of parole for teenage killers. Now, even those who were convicted long ago must be considered for parole or given a new sentence.

The court ruled in the case of Henry Montgomery. He’s been imprisoned more than 50 years, since he killed a sheriff’s deputy as a 17-year-old in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1963.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.

Ann Arbor attorney Deborah LaBelle says the reaction Monday has been “tears of joy” in Michigan prisons. At 71, Sheldry Topp is the oldest state inmate serving a no-parole sentence for murder as a teen. He’s been in prison for 53 years.

Roughly 350 prisoners are affected. It’s unclear whether they will get parole hearings or new sentences. Attorney General Bill Schuette is reviewing the decision.