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Michigan’s Juvenile Lifer Bill Still Causing Controversy

Juvenile prisoner
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Over a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court did away with mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders. Since then, even though Michigan lawmakers have been working to get the state up to speed, there remains some controversy regarding if the new law will apply to those convicted juveniles currently serving time for the crimes they committed.

The Michigan Department of Corrections currently houses 360 lifers that were under the age of 18 when they were convicted of murder. Some legislators believe that more than 100 of them, most of which had a smaller part in a killing, should be issued new sentences. Yet, prosecutors say that the new laws only apply to new offenders.

Tensions are almost certain to mount this fall in the Capitol, as recent hearings on this issue have shown an outpouring of both pro and foe for revamping sentencing guidelines for people that were under the age of 18 when they were convicted, and ultimately, give them an opportunity for parole.

Lawmakers say that they are not suggesting that criminals be set free, but that a small percentage of them may deserve a second chance sometime in the future.

Michigan currently houses the second-highest amount of juvenile lifers in the United States – none of them have any chance of being paroled under the existing mandates. However, if the law was to ever allow resentencing for juvenile lifers, they could be eligible for parole after 15 years.

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