Justices extend ruling on repeat offenders’ prison terms

In this June 30, 2014 file photo, the Supreme Court building in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday voted 7-1 to extend its year-old ruling that makes people convicted of repeated violent crimes eligible for reduced prison terms.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said last year’s decision that threw out part of the Armed Career Criminal Act applies retroactively to defendants whose convictions are final.

The justices only heard arguments in the case in March. But they may have felt a need to rush their decision because some inmates face a June deadline under federal law for challenging the longer sentences. Only Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissent.

The provision of the recidivist law in question included a catchall phrase that defined what crimes make a defendant eligible for a longer prison term. The justices said last year that phrase was too vague.

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