DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has outlawed automatic life sentences for people who were 18 when they participated in first-degree murder.

It opens a door to shorter prison terms and opportunities for parole.

The court says mandatory life sentences at age 18 violate the Michigan Constitution’s ban on “cruel or unusual” punishment.

Justice Elizabeth Welch says it fails to take into account the characteristics of youth, especially brain development.

Prosecutors still can pursue life sentences for 18-year-olds. But a judge must hold a hearing where defense lawyers can present mitigating evidence, such as education, family life, decision-making skills and other factors.