LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Bills that were recently introduced in the Michigan House and Senate would eliminate life sentences for teenagers.
Additionally, the bills would allow those who have already been sentenced to qualify for parole after 10 years in prison.
Opponents of the bills met across from the Capitol Tuesday morning.
“It feels to me like these bills are only here to provide leniency for killers,” said Karen Jackson, the founder of Voices for Murder Victims.
Jackson spoke out against the group of bills, as this issue is a personal one. Her son Jeff Ballor was murdered in 2017.
If passed, the bills would prohibit judges from sentencing “life without parole” for anyone 18 and under, with a maximum sentence of no more than 60 years, and parole review after 10.
State Rep. Graham Filler called the bills a “slap in the face to victims, and the families of murdered loved ones.”
This comes after both the U.S. and Michigan supreme courts, ruled that mandatory life sentences for minors was unconstitutional.
The state is in the process of conducting case by case reviews of juvenile murders.
Eaton County prosecutor Doug Lloyd says as they sit, the bills re-victimize the families of those who were killed.
“They murdered a victim, and there is a victims family that’s left those people must be considered, they are not being considered in this legislation,” Lloyd said.
Proponents of the bills maintain that Michigan is an outlier compared to rest of the nation, as more than 30 states do not enforce juvenile life sentences.
According to the Michigan State Appellate Defender Office, out of the 200 juvenile lifers released in Michigan, only two have re-offended, and they were not homicide cases.
Tina Olson with the defender office said it’s not about people not facing consequences for their actions.
“What we are saying is ‘Let’s look at how they are situated differently as children as adolescents,'” Olson said. “I think we are proposing a different and fair way to address these cases.”