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Justices extend ruling on repeat offenders' prison terms

April 18, 2016

The Supreme Court of the United States has extended its year-old ruling that makes people convicted of repeated violent crimes eligible for reduced prison terms.

A provision in a recidivist law called the Armed Career Criminal Act 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.

On Monday, the justices ruled 7-1 that last year's decision that threw out part of the law applies to defendants whose convictions are final. That ruling means those defendants are eligible for reduced prison terms.

The justices only heard arguments in March, but may have felt a need to rush their decision because some inmates face a June deadline under federal law for challenging the longer sentences.

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