juvenile

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Drug test and unemployment bill moves forward

"People who fail or refuse to take a drug test as part of a job search could see their unemployment benefits revoked. The state Senate approved the measure yesterday," Jake Neher reports.

Lawsuit says rape common for juvenile offenders in adult prisons

"The state of Michigan faces a lawsuit alleging it has subjected hundreds of juvenile offenders to a high risk of being raped, by putting them in the same prisons as adults. Attorney Deborah LaBelle says the state has put kids as young as 13 in the same prisons as grown men. A new federal law went into effect in August requiring prisoners 17 and younger to be housed separately from older prisoners," Tracy Samilton reports.

Bernard Kilpatrick sentenced to 15 months in prison

"The father of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for a tax crime. The sentence ordered Thursday was at the bottom of the guidelines," the Associated Press reports.

US Supreme Court

DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge says all Michigan inmates serving no-parole sentences for murder committed as juveniles are entitled to a chance at release.
 
Judge John Corbett O'Meara says a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down mandatory no-parole sentences applies retroactively to Michigan inmates already behind bars.

O'Meara's decision Wednesday trumps a ruling last fall by the Michigan appeals court, which said retroactivity would not apply for most.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill to make it easier for people to wipe juvenile crimes off their record.

The new law will allow people to go to court to erase up to three offenses a year after the case is closed, instead of five years. The old law allowed only one offense to be expunged.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland, was easily approved in the Michigan House and Senate before the Legislature's recent adjournment.

Andrew Jameson / wikimedia commons

The University of Michigan Law School hosted a panel on life sentences for juveniles on Monday.  

In Michigan, a first-degree murder conviction results in an automatic life sentence for anyone 14 or older. There are currently 359 people in the state serving life without parole for crimes committed as minors. Michigan is one of 11 states with this type of law.

Austin Land works at a law firm that focuses on these kind of cases. He says these convictions are a human rights violation, because children are not able to fully participate in the adult criminal system. 

"Children have adolescent brains, they are risk-prone, and they lack adult faculties of judgment," Land said . "This all affects their ability to participate in their own defense, their ability to plea bargain."

On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court heard arguments for a pair of cases involving men who were fourteen when they were sentenced to life in prison without parole. Defendants claim this violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on ‘cruel and unusual punishment. ’ 

-Alex Markel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal judge will hear the state’s request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging state law that allows juveniles offenders to be sentenced to life without parole this afternoon. 

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are more than 350 people serving life without parole sentences in Michigan who were convicted for a crime they committed when they were under 18 years old.   Michigan has more juvenile offenders serving life terms than any other state except Pennsylvania.