DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette believes a judge’s recent opinion on no-parole sentences for juveniles covers only five prisoners and is not a sweeping decision affecting other inmates.
Schuette’s comments are in a letter to 83 county prosecutors. He says he wants to dispel what he calls “rumors” in news reports following a recent decision by federal Judge John Corbett O’Meara.
O’Meara said Michigan prisoners should have a “fair and meaningful” shot at parole now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down mandatory no-parole sentences for crimes committed by teens, mostly murder. The judge said Michigan’s parole law is unconstitutional.
But Schuette interprets O’Meara’s decision as affecting only a handful of inmates who filed a lawsuit, not hundreds behind bars. Attorney Deborah LaBelle disagrees.
An excerpt of Shuette’s letter to prosecutors reads as follows:
“…contrary to recent newspaper articles and other reports, Judge O’Meara’s January 30, 2013 Opinion does not give the Miller decision retroactive effect; does not require the resentencing of every teenage murderer serving a mandatory life-without-parole sentence; and does not require immediate parole review of every teenage murderer serving such a sentence. Michigan trial courts are bound only by the Michigan Court of Appeals’ published precedent in Carp. As these matters continue to be litigated, our office remains dedicated to being the voice for those family members and friends who lost loved ones to the most heinous of crimes – the taking of human life.”
– View a copy of the letter (.pdf format) –
More court action is planned.
With more than 350 prisoners in that category, Michigan has the second highest number of juvenile lifers in the country.
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