Federal Judge Orders Michigan to Give Juvenile Lifers a Chance for Parole

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Ryan Schill/JJIE.org

Ryan Schill / JJIE.org

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered that the 350 Michigan prisoners serving life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles should be given a chance at parole. The ruling comes nearly a year and half after the landmark June 2012 Supreme Court decision that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.

Yesterday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge John O’Meara gives Michigan until Jan 31, 2014, a little more than two months, to decide on a plan for giving the state’s juvenile lifers a “fair, meaningful and realistic” opportunity for parole.

Children’s advocates welcomed the ruling, but Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said parole hearings would only hurt the families of the victims.

“In every case where a juvenile is sentenced to life in prison, a victim was already sentenced to death — forever,” Schuette said through a spokesperson. The ruling, he added, would “re-victimizing these families through unnecessary hearings.”

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