A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers has quietly introduced a series of bills that would redefine the way juvenile murder convicts are sentenced and provide current inmates with a chance at parole, reports Michigan Live. The U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that sentencing minors to life in prison without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional, prompting calls for legislative action in Michigan and other states with mandatory sentencing guidelines that apply to juvenile offenders.
“Similar packages of legislation have been introduced before but in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Miller v. Alabama in June, now is the time to address mandatory sentences here in Michigan,” said state Rep. Mark Meadows, D-Lansing. Michigan is home to more than 350 inmates serving mandatory life sentences without parole for serious crimes they committed as minors. A bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland, would give the state parole board jurisdiction over juvenile lifers who already have served at least 15 years for crimes they committed before age 16 or at least 20 years for crimes they committed between ages 16 and 18. The bill directs the parole board to consider mitigating circumstances.