Garner v. Jones, 529 U.S. 244, 6 (2000)

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

Opinion of the Court

Clause, the court posited that the set of inmates affected by the retroactive change—all prisoners serving life sentences—is "bound to be far more sizeable than the set . . . at issue in Morales"—inmates convicted of more than one homicide. Id., at 594. The Georgia law sweeps within its coverage, the court continued, "many inmates who can expect at some point to be paroled," ibid., and thus "seems certain to ensure that some number of inmates will find the length of their incarceration extended in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Constitution," id., at 595. "Eight years is a long time," the court emphasized, and "[m]uch can happen in the course of eight years to affect the determination that an inmate would be suitable for parole." Ibid. The Court of Appeals recognized that the Parole Board would set a new parole review date three years or more into the future (up to eight years) only where it concludes that " 'it is not reasonable to expect that parole would be granted' " sooner. Ibid. (quoting policy statement of Parole Board). The court thought this policy insufficient, however, because, unlike the statute in Morales, it does not require the Board "to make any particularized findings" and is not "carefully tailored." 164 F. 3d, at 594-595. The court also recognized that the Board's policy permitted it to reconsider any parole denials upon a showing of a "change in circumstance[s]" or upon the Board's receipt of "new information." The court deemed the policy insufficient, however, stating that "[p]olicy statements, unlike regulations are un-enforceable and easily changed, and adherence to them is a matter of the Board's discretion." Id., at 595.

We granted certiorari, 527 U. S. 1068 (1999), and we now reverse.


The States are prohibited from enacting an ex post facto law. U. S. Const., Art. I, 10, cl. 1. One function of the Ex Post Facto Clause is to bar enactments which, by retroactive operation, increase the punishment for a crime after its com-


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