57 years. 9 months. 16 days. That’s how long Henry Montgomery spent in prison after one fateful day in 1963 in Louisiana, when he was only 17 years old. But what did he do?
Montgomery was sentenced to death, then life without parole – years before the Civil Rights Act was passed – for killing a plainclothes police officer. He narrowly escaped the death penalty, but would still spend his entire life in prison.
And that’s why he became a part of a landmark Supreme Court case that changed over 800 lives.
In 2012, mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children were banned.
In 2016, Montgomery v. Louisiana ruled that this could be applied to youth who had already been incarcerated – like Montgomery. But he stayed in prison. Why?
Despite board members and judges advising that Montgomery isn’t a risk, the now 75-year-old man stayed in prison while others were released because of his influence.
Our system refuses to acknowledge that human beings can grow and evolve. But there is a small victory in this story.