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Politics & Government

Ann Arbor teen uses snow days, writes legal brief in defense of juvenile lifers

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Michigan Supreme Court

Sixteen-year-old Matelyn Sarosi wasn't building snow men or sipping hot chocolate during her recent snow days. Instead, she was drafting an 18-page legal document calling for a chance at parole for Michigan prison inmates sentenced to mandatory life in prison for crimes they committed before the age of 18. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, Father Gabriel Richard Catholic High School student Sarosi explained her motives behind her brief to the Michigan Supreme Court, which was submitted on Friday. 

I was really kind of shocked at the issue, the injustice of it all, and the magnitude. I'm a teenager and I know my peers. We make impulsive, immature decisions. We make dangerous decisions. But if you give up hope on our youth and kids, you're giving away our future.

A Michigan appeals court ruling from November 2012 said the U.S. Supreme Court's decision ending mandatory life without parole sentences for young people should "not apply retroactively," the Free Press reported. 

If taken seriously, her brief could bring about parole opportunities for inmates like Dakota Eliason, Raymond Carp and Cortez Davis – inmates who were convicted for participating in murders before the age 18. 

Sarosi sites research on child brain development, the effects of peer pressure and more to support her document. In her brief, she states:

It is illogical to give the harshest sentence, a sentence that does not allow redemption, to the ones who may have the greatest capacity for redemption itself.

The case will be heard on March 6, and Sarosi hopes to be in the audience. 

-Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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