The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders violates the Constitution's Eighth Amendment (the ban on cruel and unusual punishment).
The ruling has big ramifications on Michigan. The state has one of the highest populations of juvenile offenders serving life sentences---358 out of about 2,500 nationwide.
The ACLU sued the state of Michigan back in 2010. Their press release at the time said the United States is the only country in the world that sentences young people to life without the possibility of parole:
....and Michigan incarcerates the second highest number of people serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed when they were 17 years old or younger. Currently, there are 350 individuals serving such mandatory life sentences in Michigan.
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court drew from two previous cases---one banning the death penalty for youth offenders and the other outlawing life without parole for juveniles in non-homicide cases.
Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority, said that those previous cases establish that "children are constitutionally different from adults for sentencing purposes. Their 'lack of maturity' and 'underdeveloped sense of responsibility' lead to recklessness, impulsivity, and heedless risk-taking."