Court ruling offers inmates sentenced as juvenile rare chance at freedom

DETROIT (AP) - The Supreme Court ruling that banned states from imposing mandatory life sentences on teenagers offers an unexpected chance at freedom to thousands of inmates who have never been able to seek release.

In more than two dozen states, lawyers armed with the opinion can now ask for new sentences. And judges will have discretion to look beyond the crime at other factors such as a prisoner's age at the time of the offense, the person's background and perhaps evidence that an inmate has changed while incarcerated.

Virtually all of the sentences in question are for murder. And many of the convicts had no hope their prospects would ever improve.

In Monday's decision, the high court said life without parole for juveniles violates the Constitution's ban against cruel and unusual punishment.

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