Report Advocates Abolishing Life Sentences for Michigan Juveniles

Yahoo Contributor Network

A report released Monday found there are significant disparities in the Michigan justice system regarding the sentencing of juvenile criminals. The report was the result of a joint effort between the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and the group Second Chance 4 Youth.

* The report sought to examine how Michigan prosecutes and sentences juvenile offenders as well as to compare how the state's justice system worked for juvenile offenders vs. adult offenders.

* The report examined "juvenile lifers" in the state -- minors who have been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

* Michigan has the second-largest number of juvenile lifers in the nation with 358, according to the Associated Press.

* Michigan is one of five states that account for 75 percent of all the juvenile lifers in the nation.

* The report breaks down the issue into three problems: A conviction on first-degree murder automatically removes the possibility a judge could recommend or offer parole; minors who are dependent on the crime can be prosecuted as adults as young as 14; and someone can be convicted of first-degree murder if they had no intention of killing the victim.

* The report found racial disparities in certain counties regarding the sentencing of juvenile offenders, and juvenile offenders were less likely to have effective representation or an understanding of the proceedings related to their conviction and sentencing.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.

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