JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri prison officials say they will comply with a federal judge’s sweeping order to change how the state parole board treats prisoners sentenced to life behind bars for crimes they committed as juveniles.
Department of Corrections spokesman Garry Brix on Wednesday said the agency respects U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey’s ruling and will follow it.
Laughrey ordered new hearings for prisoners sentenced as children or teenagers who were previously denied parole. She barred the parole board from denying release solely because of the seriousness of those prisoners’ crimes.
Her ruling comes after inmates filed a class-action lawsuit against Missouri’s prison system. They alleged that the parole board didn’t give them a fair shot at freedom, despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found life sentences for juveniles without parole are unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.