Michigan, Indiana offer vastly different opinions on juvenile lifers in prison

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Many states are taking a new look at juvenile life without parole following a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year, but that ruling appears to have little impact in Indiana.

Indiana law allows a judge to sentence those over the age of 16 to life without parole for a murder conviction. However, Larry Landis, of the Indiana Public Defenders Council, says he can’t think of instance where such a sentence was imposed. And state officials say no one is serving a life-without-parole sentence for crimes committed as a juvenile.

The court in 2012 barred states from imposing mandatory life without parole on minors convicted of murder. In 2016 the court made the decision retroactive, saying most offenders already serving such sentences should get a chance to argue for release.

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DETROIT (AP) — Several Michigan prosecutors want to keep most or all their juvenile-lifer inmates behind bars despite Supreme Court rulings that say the punishment should be banned except for those rare offenders who are beyond rehabilitation.

Defense lawyer Deb LaBelle says that of some 363 such prisoners in the state, 236 are facing new no-parole sentences. She calls it “geographic justice.”

Wayne County is home to the largest number of juvenile lifers in the state. The prosecutor’s office there recommends a term of years —from 25 years to 60 years — in 82 cases while seeking new no-parole sentences in 62 others.

In other counties, prosecutors want new natural life sentences for the overwhelming majority or every inmate.

Defense lawyers say this flouts the law. Prosecutors say it’s necessary for public safety.

1 COMMENT

  1. This article is terribly incorrect. In 2012, Andrew Conley was sentenced to life without parole. He was a juvenile. He was 17 years old. I pray this changes for your state. No matter which way you slice it, a juvenile is, well….a juvenile. They should never be charged as adults. Why? BECAUSE THEY AREN’T ADULTS.

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