Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court handed down a directive saying that all prisoners sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed as minors, the so-called “juvenile lifers,” should get the chance to have their sentences reconsidered.
The Court, in Miller v. Alabama in 2012 and in Montgomery v. Louisiana in 2016, said that the sentence of life without parole should be reserved only for the “rarest” of cases in which the juvenile is found to be “irreparably corrupt” or “permanently incorrigible.”
Some 360 Michigan inmates fall into this category. But so far, Michigan prosecutors have filed motions to uphold life without parole sentences in nearly 60 percent of these cases.
(This story is part of our series Michigan's Juvenile Lifers: Who Gets a Second Chance?)
Sixty percent certainly seems to be more than the “rarest” standard set forth by the Supreme Court, critics argue.
Deborah LaBelle is Ann Arbor attorney leading the ACLU of Michigan's Juvenile Life Without Parole initiative. She says Michigan prosecutors are ignoring the Supreme Court.