Juvenile convicted murderers sentenced before 2012 will not get parole

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Supreme Court has made a big decision that will impact some 200 people in Louisiana prisons; a decision that has split the juvenile legal community.

The LA Supreme Court refuses to retroactively allow juvenile convicted murderers and others sentenced to life in prison to apply for parole.

There are hundreds of convicted murderers who are spending life in prison, but were under the age of 17 when they committed the crime.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that judges cannot hand down mandatory life sentences to those juveniles without a special hearing before a final sentence is given.

The Louisiana Supreme Court says while the U.S. High Court's order is being followed on all new cases, it's decision does not apply retroactively; meaning the hundreds convicted before the ruling will grow old and die in prison.

"I think it's very unfortunate for those, especially those who have waited over 30 years in the hopes of something changing that the U.S. Supreme Court made this decision that should have affected them and Louisiana Supreme Court says that it doesn't," said Defense Attorney Kyla Romanach.

District Attorney Hillar Moore says he is fine with the non-retroactive portion of the ruling.

"[La. Supreme Court] said it wasn't retroactive; that there wasn't a substantial change in the law. [The law] only applied to a certain few people, these juvenile offenders, and only from that date… last year… should they be entitled to some type of hearing," says Moore.

"I think it's an unfortunate decision. I respectfully disagree with the decision. I think that the United States Supreme Court held that juveniles cannot be sentenced to mandatory life without parole without a hearing," said Romanach.

Courts in other states have split on the issue, which will most likely end up back in Washington with the Supreme Court.

The Louisiana case is out of New Orleans where a 17-year-old robbed a man of 40 cents and shot him to death.

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