Sunday, September 23News That Matters

Update: Henry Montgomery won his Supreme Court case—but not his freedom

The Associated Press has reported that 71-year-old Henry Montgomery, whose appeal led the Supreme Court to ban mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles, has been denied parole. Montgomery has been incarcerated since age 17, when he shot sheriff’s deputy Charles Hurt. 

A three-member panel from the state parole board voted 2 to 1 to keep Henry Montgomery imprisoned. The hearing was his first chance at freedom since his conviction decades ago.

Montgomery now must wait another two years before he can request another parole hearing. A vote to free him would have had to be unanimous.

Montgomery won the right to seek parole for himself and about 2,000 other people who were sentenced to life without parole for offenses committed as juveniles. All signs pointed to Montgomery having at least a shot at parole.

Last June, a state judge who resentenced Montgomery to life with the possibility of parole called him a “model prisoner” who appears to be rehabilitated.

Montgomery’s lawyers said he has strived to be a positive role model for other prisoners, serving as a coach and trainer for a boxing team he helped form at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

The reasons offered by the two board members who blocked Montgomery’s parole were vague.

[T]he two parole board members who voted against Montgomery questioned why he hadn’t accessed more programs and services that could have benefited him in prison. One of the panelists, Kenneth Loftin, also said he was disappointed in some of Montgomery’s statements during the hearing but didn’t specify which ones.