Roughly a dozen people are serving life terms in prison without the possibility of parole in Maryland for crimes they committed as juveniles, and nearly all of them are asking for new sentences in light of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that say sentencing teenagers to die in prison is unconstitutional.
Since a landmark ruling barring mandatory life without parole for juveniles was made retroactive in 2016, the sentences of four lifers in Maryland have been tossed, and each is awaiting a resentencing hearing.
Motions for new hearings in Maryland courts are more complex than similar legal battles being waged in many other states. That's because, according to the bipartisan organization National Conference of State Legislators, Maryland is among more than 20 states where judges aren't mandated to hand down life-without-parole sentences for certain offenses but may do so if they choose. Such discretionary sentences aren't explicitly covered under the Supreme Court's decision, prosecutors have argued.