Debate Over “Juvenile Lifers” Legislation Heating Up Over The Summer

Jul 5, 2013

A group of state lawmakers is focusing its attention this summer on bills dealing with Michigan’s so-called “juvenile lifers.”

The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Jake Neher has more.

It’s been more than a year since the U-S Supreme Court said it’s cruel and unusual to automatically sentence minors to life in prison without parole. Since then, state lawmakers have argued over what that means for more than 350 “juvenile lifers” already behind bars in Michigan.

Many say the Legislature can’t wait for the question to be decided in court.

Shelli Weisburg is with the ACLU of Michigan. She says activists and lawmakers are working hard to get a proposal ready this summer.

“I think everyone knows we have to do something,” she says.  “It’s just, the devil is in the details, and what is it we can all agree upon?”

State Attorney General Bill Schuette says people already behind bars should not be re-sentenced. He says that would be too painful for victims’ families.