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Juvenile offenders & life without parole

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio
A guard tower stands overlooking the yard at one of the state prisons in Jackson

A federal judge will hear the state’s request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging state law that allows juveniles offenders to be sentenced to life without parole this afternoon. 

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are more than 350 people serving life without parole sentences in Michigan who were convicted for a crime they committed when they were under 18 years old.   Michigan has more juvenile offenders serving life terms than any other state except Pennsylvania. 

Dan Korobkin is with the ACLU of Michigan.  “We recognize that children can’t use alcohol.  They can’t join the army.   They can’t serve on a jury.  They can’t vote.   They don’t have the capacity to handle adult responsibility.   Yet, we sentence them to the harshest punishment we have available in the state.” 

The Michigan Attorney General’s office argues that the U.S. Supreme Court has already found it constitutional for juvenile offenders to be sentenced to life prison terms.    

If the judge rules in the ACLU’s favor, the decision will only allow the lawsuit to move forward.  

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