An inmate who has spent nearly 60 years behind bars for the murder of sheriff’s deputy as a juvenile was granted parole on Wednesday.
Henry Montgomery’s case has been cited in US Supreme Court rulings that determined young people were capable of change and should be given another chance if they commit serous crimes as juveniles.
But while Montgomery’s case has led to hundreds of lower sentences in hundreds of cases, he had remained behind bars since 1963 until Wednesday’s decision by the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole.
The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth announced the decision on Twitter.
“It is with great relief that we share that Henry Montgomery, the petitioner in the 2016 landmark US Supreme Court decision Montgomery v Louisiana, was finally granted parole today more than five years after the Court ruled in his favor.”
Montgomery was arrested after fatally shooting Charles Hurt, an East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy, who caught him skipping school.
Montgomery was 17 at the time. He was initially sentenced to death but the state’s Supreme Court threw out his conviction in 1966, saying he didn’t get a fair trial.
The case was retried, Montgomery was convicted again but this time sentenced to life in prison.
BREAKING: It is with great relief that we share that Henry Montgomery, the petitioner in the 2016 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Montgomery v. Louisiana, was finally granted parole today more than five years after the Court ruled in his favor.— Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (@theCFSY) November 17, 2021
When Montgomery went to prison, and for decades afterward, the “lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key” attitude dominated law enforcement and society – especially in Louisiana where the incarceration rate has consistently been the highest in the country. Juvenile offenders, often portrayed as irredeemable “super-predators”, were no exception.
But recent Supreme Court rulings have begun to chip away at these lifetime juvenile sentences as the country has begun to rethink “tough-on-crime” approaches.
The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth thanked Montgomery’s attorneys, supporters, and friends who have worked on his case over the years.
“Mr Montgomery’s case has already impacted the lives of hundreds of people once told they would die behind bars for crimes they committed as children.
“Since Montgomery v. Louisiana was decided, more than 800 people who were once sentenced to LWOP as children have been released,” it wrote.
The Associated Press contributed this report
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