6th Circuit Puts Parole Hearings For Juvenile Lifers On Hold

Dec 23, 2013

The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has put on hold an order for hearings that could mean freedom for about 360 Michigan inmates sentenced as juveniles to life with no chance for parole.

The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Rick Pluta reports.

A federal judge ruled last month that Michigan is dragging its feet in complying with a US Supreme Court decision. It says sentences of life with no chance at parole for juveniles are “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Deborah LaBelle is the attorney representing a group of juvenile lifers who sued the state. She says they deserve the chance to make their case for parole.

“Many of these individuals have more than paid their debt to society,” she says.  “They have served decades in prison for things they did as a child and the US Supreme Court has declared that sentence unconstitutional.” 

State Attorney General Bill Schuette wants the decision applied only to current and future cases. He says it’s not fair to families of murder victims to have their cases re-opened.