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Three juvenile lifers in Jackson County up for re-sentencings

Some Michigan prisons are accelerating the return of staff after a positive coronavirus test.
Office of Legislative Corrections Ombudsman
Some Michigan prisons are accelerating the return of staff after a positive coronavirus test.

Three Jackson County men who were serving life without parole for murders they committed as minors will be re-sentenced.

MLive reports that all three men — 42-year-old Stanley Fowle, 49-year-old Charles Porter, and 58-year-old Charles Finch — will have hearings scheduled for the coming weeks and months.

These re-sentencings come after a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which said states cannot impose mandatory sentences of life without parole on juveniles. In 2016, the Supreme Court added that the ruling applies retroactively to people already serving life.

At the time of that ruling, Michigan had 363 juvenile lifers—that was the second highest number of any state. As of August 2017, 91 of those prisoners had been re-sentenced, and 4 had been released.

Tina Olson works as the unit manager on juvenile life without parole litigation for the State Appellate Defender Office. She says her office represents the prisoners in over half of the remaining cases.

She says that juvenile lifers committed crimes before their brains had finished developing and that they deserve a second chance.

“People who have committed these crimes have done so when they are immature and impetuous and unable to appreciate risks and unable to appreciate consequences,” she says. “Many of our clients are from disadvantaged backgrounds, thus compounding those elements.”

She adds that giving juvenile lifers second chances actually benefits more people than the convicts themselves.

“Some of them have done absolutely wonderful things in prison,” she says. “They mentor, they participate in all the programming that they are allowed to do. They're of value to their families, and when they get out, they're of value to their communities.”

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