About 300 Louisiana inmates spending their lives in prison for murders committed as teens are turning to the courts after the Legislature failed to address their sentences, which were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in January, reported The Advocate.
A bill that would’ve given the inmates a shot at parole after serving at least 30 years died at the end of the regular Legislative session amid eleventh-hour negotiations and an unrelated spat between the state House and Senate.
Each of the inmates will now need to petition district judges for new sentences individually, prosecutors and defense attorneys say. If district attorneys again seek sentences of life without parole, each defendant is entitled to a full-blown sentencing hearing, including expert testimony and evidence about their home lives, schooling and mindset at the time of the crimes, many of them decades in the past.
The court battles and hearings pose complex legal challenges that could drag on for years and cost an already strained legal system millions of dollars. With budgets stretched for many district attorneys and with local public defenders in many parishes turning away clients because of a lack of funding, many say the flood of cases couldn’t have come at a worse time.
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