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Wednesday, June 20, 2018, 9:57 a.m.

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Arkansas justices rule resentencing law for inmates given life without parole as teens doesn't retroactively apply

By John Moritz

This article was published May 24, 2018 at 1:37 p.m.


The state Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that an Arkansas man sentenced to life in prison as a teen — a punishment ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court — is not required to go through the resentencing path chosen by lawmakers.

Instead, a 4-3 majority of the court ruled that the inmate, Derrick Harris of Monticello, is entitled to his own resentencing hearing in front of a judge or jury.

The majority opinion by Chief Justice Dan Kemp found that the law the General Assembly passed in response to rulings by the U.S. justices, the Fair Sentencing of Minors Act of 2017, does not apply retroactively to inmates such as Harris.

The ruling could affect the cases of up to 42 other inmates who were sentenced to life without parole as teens in Arkansas, according to the state's top public defender, Gregg Parrish.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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