Juvenile Lifer Ruling Requires Authorities to Track Down Victims

Jul 17, 2012

A state House committee held a hearing Tuesday on what Michigan needs to do to comply with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The decision struck down automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles.

Authorities the state needs to track down felons convicted as juveniles who might be eligible for re-sentencing – as well as the victims in those cases. That’s because Michigan has victims’ rights laws that require courts to give victims a chance to make statements at sentencing hearings.

Jody Robinson’s brother was murdered 22 years ago. One of the killers was 16 years old.

“We don’t want to have to re-live this nightmare," she says. "We didn’t ask for this relationship with the offender. It was forced upon us and when can we break that tie? When can we say, OK, you’re out of my life.”

Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office says it’s not certain that juvenile lifers currently serving will be re-sentenced or if the decision will only be applied going forward. The State Appellate Defenders Office says the ruling requires new hearings for each of Michigan’s 366 juvenile lifers.