Should convicted teen murderers have a chance at parole?

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Supreme Court's close 5 to 4 decision on teenagers who kill and the possibility of them getting a chance at parole is causing some problems in Louisiana.

The court was unclear on what should happen to convicts who are already serving life sentences for crimes they committed when they were teens.

Angola is full of people serving life sentences for murder; some of them committed the crimes when they were teenagers. The new Supreme Court decision says that teenagers shouldn't automatically face a life sentence in the case of a murder; instead, that they should one day get a chance at parole.

WAFB found a Baton Rouge area man who fits in that category. He played a part in a deadly drug deal and served 23 years before Governor Edwards commuted his sentence.

"Everyone should have an opportunity, no matter what they did, especially kids. They can't perceive how much time life is without parole. So how can we rehabilitate a kid when you throw them away and say you're not good, you're not worth anything, you'll never change... I'm proof that you can change," said Larry Benoit.

Depending on who you talk to, Larry is rare.  He got out got on his feet and now owns his own home and two successful businesses.

On the other side, a man who's seen teens at their worst:  District Attorney Hillar Moore.

"Some small group - it's life of crimes and violence and guns and drugs and bad stuff," said Moore.  "Someone is just as dead from a gun in the hands of 16-year-old - an 18, 22-year-old. We have some violent young kids. We'll have to deal with it."

Benoit agrees some teenagers who kill might be hard to save, but they're not unsalvageable.

"When you take that kid and put him in a situation and he acts like he normally would, he doesn't think about the consequences or the families, or anything of that nature... So he does like he normally does," said Benoit.  "But to say you're going to not ever get out or get any better, and never change and be a better person - that's wrong."

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