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Criminal Justice & Legal System
With two landmark rulings, the United States Supreme Court has made it clear: Mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional. This has meant that the more than 360 so-called juvenile lifers in Michigan -- the second-highest total in the nation -- are eligible for re-sentencing, and possibly a second chance. It’s also meant time-consuming case reviews and court hearings, and, for victims’ families, often a painful reopening of the worst moments in their lives.The week of December 12th, 2016, Michigan Radio took a close look at how Michigan is following up on these landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings.Are juvenile lifers in Michigan getting a second chance?It's a difficult discussion that has life and death stakes, murders and victims, issues of justice and fairness, and a lot of legal maneuvering. It's also a conversation about how we, as a society, should treat the most troubled children among us.There are few easy answers. See our entire series below.

Michigan still lags in complying with Supreme Court and re-sentencing juvenile lifers

collection of photos
STEVE CARMODY, JODI WESTRICK, AND THOMAS HAWK.
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Photos from our series on juvenile lifers in Michigan.

When it comes to re-sentencing inmates who were sentenced to life without parole as juveniles, Michigan is lagging behind just about every other state.

Back in December, we brought you a series of stories about the juvenile lifers in Michigan prisons.

We dug into how Michigan prosecutors have responded to a pair of U.S. Supreme Court rulings that made it very clear that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional.

Those rulings meant that the more than 360 juvenile lifers in Michigan were eligible for re-sentencing, and possibly a second chance. In short, the Supreme Court said that juveniles were capable of rehabilitation.

And that's exactly what one of Michigan's juvenile lifers — John Hall — said when we spoke with him back in March. He was released from prison after he served more than 50 years behind bars.

Deborah LaBelle, an Ann Arbor-based attorney, is director of the Juvenile Life Without Parole Initiative with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She joined Stateside today to bring us an update on this important question:

Are the inmates in Michigan who were sentenced to life without parole when they were juveniles getting that second chance?

Listen above for LaBelle's answer. 

(Subscribe to the Stateside podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or with this RSS link)

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