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Federal judge orders parole changes for Missouri juveniles jailed for life

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – A federal judge is ordering sweeping changes to how Missouri’s parole board treats prisoners sentenced to life behind bars for crimes committed as children or teenagers.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey this month ordered new hearings for prisoners sentenced as juveniles who were previously denied parole. She barred the parole board from denying release solely because of the seriousness of those prisoners’ crimes.

The ruling comes after prisoners filed a class-action lawsuit against Missouri’s prison system. They alleged that the parole board didn’t give them a fair shot at freedom, despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found life sentences for juveniles without parole are unconstitutional, cruel, and unusual punishment.

Associated Press requests for comment to Missouri’s Corrections Department, parole board and attorney general were not immediately returned Wednesday.

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