More than 300 Michigan inmates sentenced as minors to life without parole could get a second chance at early release.
That’s under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling handed down Monday. In 2012, the court ruled that sentencing minors to mandatory life in prison without the chance for parole was cruel and unusual. But it left it up to states to decide whether people sentenced before then should get resentencing hearings. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled they shouldn’t.
But now, the U.S. Supreme Court says all so-called juvenile lifers should be able to argue for early release. “The Supreme Court recognizes that there are no throw-away kids in America. You have to give them a second chance,” said Dan Korobkin, an attorney with the ACLU of Michigan. “The Supreme Court has recognized time and again that, when it comes to issues of crime and punishment, children are different. They should be punished for their crimes, but they also need to be given an opportunity at some point in their lives to demonstrate that they no longer pose a danger to society.”
Michigan has the second highest number of juvenile lifers behind bars in the nation. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette argued against allowing juvenile lifers to get a chance for parole. His office says it’s reviewing the decision.