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April 13, 2009

Effective examination of juve LWOP problems in Michigan

This local article, headlined "As bill to ban life imprisonment for children languishes, inequities of defense persist," provides an effective review of Michigan's story of sentencing juvenile offenders to extreme prison terms.  Here are excerpts (which include helpful links):

As legislation to end juvenile-life-without-parole sentences in Michigan remains stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, some court watchers are warning that the controversial sentence may not be in tune with recent public opinion and is not applied fairly by the justice system.

Currently, nearly 350 people in the state are serving life sentences for crimes committed when they were age 17 or younger. Seventy percent of them are African American, according to the state’s Department of Corrections.

Michigan, which currently spends approximately 20 percent of it’s general budget on corrections, has the third-highest number of inmates serving juvenile-life-without-parole sentences, according to a 2005 study by the Wayne State University School of Social Work.  Wayne State’s study surveyed public sentiment on juvenile crime and punishment and found that a majority did not support juvenile-life-without-parole sentences....

When juveniles are facing charges that carry a life sentence, they are especially dependent on legal counsel in a state that has one of the most under-funded public defender systems in the country. A recent report by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association done in cooperation with the State Bar of Michigan found that the lack of state funding, standards and oversight leads to inadequate public defense locally where counties often lack the resources to provide adequate support for those who can’t afford an attorney....

According to an American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan report, “Second Chances: Juveniles Serving Life Without Parole in Michigan,” the rate of juvenile-life-without-parole sentences varies widely among Michigan counties.  Between 1990 and 2000, the counties with the highest rate of this sentence were Saginaw, Calhoun and Berrien counties. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Saginaw and Berrien rank among the top 25 most segregated metropolitan areas in the country.

The ACLU of Michigan report on juvenile LWOP sentences is available at this link.  The ACLU report is now a few years old, but this more recent letter on the topic from the folks at Human Rights Watch suggests that not much has changed in the state since the report was issued.

Some related posts on juve LWOP:

April 13, 2009 at 10:24 AM | Permalink

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Comments

There is no evidence in the facts that justifies lenience for adolescent murderers. This is just pretextual advocacy by the criminal lover ACLU. Actually, they do not even love the criminal. That would be human of a lawyer. They love the rent from this perpetual meal ticket. They want nothing to deter the murderers, sent by their drug kingpins to kill mass numbers of enemies with near immunity.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 13, 2009 2:14:36 PM

The lawyer destroys the black family to generate bastardy. It generates massive social pathology, including criminality. The lawyer generates massive employment from these social pathologies. Then the lawyer has the nerve to accuse the judicial system of being racist, when the crime victimization rate has the same racial disparity, caused by the above rate of bastardy, caused by the lawyer in the first place.

Before whites feel safe. The lawyer is coming after the white family, and all racial disparities in social pathology should end in the next generation as white bastardy rates rise under the withering attack of the rent seeking lawyer on the white family.

If the Detroit-Fallujah lifestyle comes to your town, thank the lawyer.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 13, 2009 2:24:09 PM

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