Michigan's top court hears juvenile lifers case
Thu, 06 Mar 2014 18:25:11 GMT —
The Michigan Supreme Court is hearing arguments to determine whether more than 300 prisoners could someday get a shot at parole.
Attorneys for the state of Michigan have urged the state Supreme Court to deny any new benefit to more than 350 prisoners who are serving no-parole sentences for murder.
The prisoners were convicted of first-degree murder committed when they were younger than 18. Their no-parole sentence was automatic. The court will decide how to apply a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to Michigan prisoners who are serving no-parole sentences for murder committed when they were under 18.
The nation's highest court says teens can't automatically get no-parole sentences for murder, like adults. The court says teens are different and deserve a hearing that explores their childhood and why they committed the crime.
The issue Thursday for the Michigan Supreme Court is whether to apply the new standard retroactively to people already in prison.
Hilary Georgia of the St. Clair County prosecutor's office says reopening the cases would be difficult for judges because many cases are old. But attorney Patricia Selby says prisoners should benefit from a substantial change in constitutional law.