MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) — A federal appeals court rejected an inmate’s challenge to an increase in the number of years between parole interviews for Florida prisoners.READ MORE: Florida Condo Collapse Settlement Reaches, Tops $1 Billion
The challenge was filed by inmate Ben E. Jones, 77, who was sentenced to life in prison for sexual batteries that occurred in 1978 and 1979. At the time, state law required the Florida Parole Commission to conduct parole interviews for inmates every two years.
But in 2001, state lawmakers approved a change allowing the commission to schedule interviews up to five years apart, and in 2010, they approved allowing the intervals to be as long as seven years apart, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jones, whose most recent interview was in 2012, contended that it was unconstitutional to retroactively apply the longer intervals. But the 15-page ruling said “nothing inherent in the state’s decision to enlarge the maximum period between parole considerations poses a significant risk that offenders will serve more time in prison.”READ MORE: South Florida Man Accused Of Setting Wife On Fire, Hitting Her With His Car
Also, the ruling by a three-judge panel said “Mr. Jones has alleged no facts suggesting his parole prospects will be different in 2017, or even in 2019, than they were in 2012.”
Florida abolished parole in 1983 for most new crimes, but parole continues to apply to people such as Jones who were in prison before that time.
The Florida Parole Commission also has been renamed the Florida Commission on Offender Review.MORE NEWS: Opa-locka Hialeah Flea Market Vendors: 'We have to leave like dogs'
(The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)