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State Lawmakers Considering “Juvenile Lifer” Bills

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Juveniles convicted of murder in Michigan would no longer face mandatory life sentences under bills in the state House.   

As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, state lawmakers are trying to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling handed down this summer.  

The ruling said it’s cruel and unusual to automatically sentence people under the age of 18 to life in prison without the chance of parole.

Courts across the state are looking to Lansing for guidance on how to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. Last month, the state Court of Appeals urged lawmakers to re-write the state’s sentencing laws.

Democratic state Representative Mark Meadows says there’s no time to waste.

“The Court of Appeals has said ‘take care of it,’ he explains. "We’re trying to take care of it. Hopefully we’ll take care of it by the end of this year.”

A major issue is whether the ruling should apply to people already serving mandatory life sentences. Bill sponsors say they’ll push to apply it retroactively. But they say they’re willing to pass bills that only apply it to new cases.

Jake Neher is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He covers the State Legislature and other political events in Lansing.
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