State officials have 60 days to develop a plan for a “meaningful” opportunity for parole for inmates serving life without parole for offenses they committed as juveniles. The ruling was issued by U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey. The lawsuit was filed by four Missouri inmates who were juveniles when they committed their crimes and each has been denied parole after a hearing. They represented 90 other such juveniles who had been denied parole and the majority have not been granted another hearing for a maximum of five years. Judge Laughrey said the parole board’s decision was communicated through a “boiler plate form” that gave little explanation for the denial. Even state officials admitted that Missouri failed to give an adequate explanation for the denials or ways the inmate could be better suited for parole.
Judge Laughrey noted several recent Supreme Court rulings that granted constitutional protections to juveniles and a 2016 law passed in Missouri that allows inmates convicted as juveniles to seek a parole review after serving 25 years.