Garner v. Jones, 529 U.S. 244, 4 (2000)

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Cite as: 529 U. S. 244 (2000)

Opinion of the Court

I

In 1974 respondent Robert L. Jones began serving a life sentence after his conviction for murder in the State of Georgia. He escaped from prison some five years later and, after being a fugitive for over two years, committed another murder. He was apprehended, convicted, and in 1982 sentenced to a second life term.

Under Georgia law, at all times relevant here, the State's Board of Pardons and Paroles (Board or Parole Board) has been required to consider inmates serving life sentences for parole after seven years. Ga. Code Ann. 42-9-45(b) (1982). The issue in this case concerns the interval between proceedings to reconsider those inmates for parole after its initial denial. At the time respondent committed his second offense, the Board's Rules required reconsiderations to take place every three years. Ga. Rules & Regs., Rule 475-3- .05(2) (1979). In 1985, after respondent had begun serving his second life sentence, the Parole Board, acting under its authority to "set forth . . . the times at which periodic reconsideration [for parole] shall take place," Ga. Code Ann. 42- 9-45(a) (1982), amended its Rules to provide that "[r]econsideration of those inmates serving life sentences who have been denied parole shall take place at least every eight years," Ga. Rules & Regs., Rule 475-3-.05(2) (1985).

The Parole Board considered respondent for parole in 1989, seven years after the 1982 conviction. It denied release and, consistent with the 1985 amendment to Rule 475- 3-.05(2), reconsideration was set for 1997, eight years later. In 1991, however, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that retroactive application of the amended Rule violated the Ex Post Facto Clause. Akins v. Snow, 922 F. 2d 1558, cert. denied, 501 U. S. 1260 (1991). In compliance with that decision, in effect reinstating its earlier 3-year Rule, the Parole Board reconsidered respondent's case in 1992 and in 1995. Both times parole was denied, the Board citing for its action respondent's "multiple offenses"

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