After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions holding mandatory life without parole sentences for youthful offenders unconstitutional, the Missouri Supreme Court denied resentencing hearings for impacted youthful offenders.
Instead, it left them to rely on the Parole Board, where inmates are not allowed to review information in their files and counsel are not allowed to correct factual mistakes.
But, as a matter of law, youthful offenders are entitled to a meaningful opportunity for release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.
The MacArthur Justice Center filed a federal class action challenging the Parole Board’s demonstrated abuse of power, disregard for due process and failure to comply with state and federal law when it comes to youthful offenders previously given mandatory life without parole sentences.
Kevin Bradshaw served 33 years and 11 months in prison before he was released this September and returned to live with his family.
Chris Polk, who was sentenced to die in prison as a teenager, returned home after 26 years and 3 months in prison.
Federal court issued a declaratory and injunctive relief order detailing over 20 demands to the Missouri Parole Board for how to handle the process for individuals serving juvenile life without parole sentences.
U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey for the Western District of Missouri issued an order giving the Missouri Parole Board 60 days to present a plan to bring the state into compliance with state and federal law.
The Court certified a class of plaintiffs consisting of individuals in the custody of the Missouri Department of Corrections who were sentenced to life without parole under a mandatory sentencing scheme and who were under 18 years of age at the time of the offense.
Trial is set for November 2018.