LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan Senate and House members have introduced legislation that would abolish juvenile life without parole sentences in Michigan.
The legislation would see Michigan align with 26 other states that have taken steps to follow the United States Supreme Court ruling Miller v. Alabama, which made automatically sentencing a child to life without parole unconstitutional.
Senate Bills 119-123 and House Bills 4160-4164 also comply with recent Michigan Supreme Court decisions that eliminate mandatory life without parole sentences for 18-year-olds and require consideration of age, immaturity, and other factors outlined in Miller V. Alabama.
“The United States Supreme Court and the Michigan Supreme Court have ruled that automatically sentencing youth to life without parole is cruel and unusual punishment. Michigan law needs to recognize that juvenile offenders deserve a chance at rehabilitation,” Democratic Michigan Senator Jeff Irwin said in a press release.
The Michigan Department of Corrections reported that very few juvenile lifers that were released after the Supreme Court decision committed offenses that landed them back in jail.
“It’s the difference between life behind bars and the opportunity for redemption, grace and mercy.” Democratic State Representative Amos O’Neal said, “The state should provide the necessary help, resources, and training for these young people to re-enter society.