The Juvenile Lifer Law: The Debate ContinuesPosted on September 14th, 2009 No comments
The Detroit News printed an article regarding the juvenile lifer law today. The byline reads, “Mich. ranks second in number of young killers behind bars.” The report cites a study from the University of Texas that says Michigan has the second most such inmates in the country. The report also says Michigan is among the harshest in the way it treats teens accused of major crimes.
“Children simply aren’t as culpable as adults because their brains aren’t fully developed yet, and they are much more capable of rehabilitation,” said Michele Deitch, an adjunct professor at the University of Texas and principal investigator of the study.
The option to sentence juveniles as adults is “harsh” treatment, the study’s authors said. Michigan’s guidelines — unlike most states’ — require a child who is convicted as an adult of first-degree murder to receive the same sentence as an adult: mandatory life in prison without parole.
The report, released this summer, gave Michigan the dubious distinction, along with three other states — Pennsylvania, Florida and South Carolina — of having children most likely to end up in adult prisons, because of mandatory sentencing laws and the ease of transferring juveniles into the adult system or imposing adult sentences.
If you read this blog often you know that I believe Michigan has a duplicitous view of juvenile delinquency. The statute indicates that the purpose is rehabilitation, but in practice, the law functions more to punish. Michigan should decide what the public policy is in addressing juvenile delinquency.
You can view the article here: Teen lifers a burden for state’s prisons.
© 2009, Melinda Deel. All rights reserved.