Michigan ordered to end life sentences for young offenders

Nov 26, 2013

Credit WMUK

A federal judge says Michigan must give a "fair, meaningful and realistic" chance for parole to state prison inmates who were convicted as children.

Judge John Corbett O'Meara gave state officials until the end of the year to make changes in the parole process. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that Michigan's policy of mandatory life sentences for some young offenders was unconstitutional.

The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union praised O"Meara's ruling. Michigan ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project Director Ezekiel Edwards says, "At the center of this case is the simple reality that children are different from adults and should be treated as such in the eyes of the law."

In his ruling, O'Meara rejected arguments by the state that his order should only apply to those convicted after the Supreme Court ruling or to just the six inmates to filed the original lawsuit. The ACLU says there are more than 350 inmates in Michigan prisons who got mandatory life sentences before they reached the age of 18.