Two hearings this week at the state Capitol will address problems in Michigan’s criminal justice system.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month struck down juvenile sentencing laws in Michigan and 28 other states. The laws automatically send juveniles convicted of serious crimes to prison for life with no chance of parole. The court said juveniles at least deserve a hearing to determine if that’s the appropriate punishment.
A state House panel begins hearings tomorrow on what changes need to be made to the state’s sentencing law in light of the ruling. Also this week, the House Judiciary Committee opens hearings on legal representation for low-income criminal defendants. Ineffective and inexperienced legal representation is a reason teens can be sentenced to life without parole when there are other options. A state commission has recommended changes to fix how Michigan ensures everyone charged with a crime gets a good attorney.