Alabama grapples with new sentences for juvenile lifers

Sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison for murders committed when they were teenagers, dozens of Alabama inmates are seeking the chance of release one day in the light of U.S. Supreme Court decisions banning mandatory life without parole for juveniles.

At least 72 juveniles were sentenced to life without parole in Alabama, according to court records, and most of those have applied for a new sentence since the high court decisions in 2012 and again last year.

As of March, 20 of the 72 inmates had been resentenced to life and will now one day be eligible for parole, according to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. One had a parole hearing and was denied release, according to the agency. Several other inmates have resentencing hearings upcoming this year.

Five years ago, the nation’s highest court banned mandatory life without parole for juveniles convicted of murder, saying their youth and background must be taken into account. Last year, the court said the ruling applied to the more than 2,000 inmates already serving such sentences nationwide.

The ruling offered a glimmer of hope to those sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison. Court fights are being waged across the state on a case-by-case basis as inmates seek…

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