The Arkansas Supreme Court continued today considering appeals
from people sentenced to life without parole sentences as juveniles, a practice the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional.
Today, the Court reversed the life without parole sentence of Billy Ray Smith
for rape and robbery in Pike County. He went to jail Jan. 1, 1977, a month after he turned 17 and the day after the crimes.
The Court ordered that the case go back to circuit court for entry of a 50-year sentence, the maximum penalty for rape.
This case had a legal wrinkle. Smith had won a reversal of his original sentence but was convicted and re-sentenced to consecutive 50-year sentences on the two charges. But those sentences didn't allow parole and the Court said Smith was entitled to relief on account of his age at the beginning of the case.
I'm checking on where this leaves Smith in terms of release possibilities.
UPDATE: I still don't have a response specific to Smith, but a veteran defense lawyer says he should be parole eligible at this point,depending on prison record, though it would be discretionary with the parole board. Even then, he must have a parole plan and board review.