SCOTUS case gives juvenile lifers new hope for release

Dec 22, 2014

Credit Chris Miller / flickr creative commons

Michigan has the second highest number of juvenile lifers in the U.S. Those are people who were sentenced to life in prison without parole before they turned 18. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sentencing laws mandating life without parole for juvenile offenders amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Michigan was one of a few states not to apply that ruling retroactively. But now, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court could determine whether those juvenile lifers sentenced before 2012 will get a shot at release.

Prison reform advocates say it’s a step toward a more informed and humane prison system, but victims’ rights organizations say it ignores the pain of the families whose loved ones were murdered by juvenile offenders.

Current State talks with Kristen Staley, a senior policy associate for the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, and Jody Robinson of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers.