ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – A judge has rejected constitutional challenges to how Michigan sentences teens convicted of first-degree murder, ending seven years of litigation.
Since 2010, federal Judge John Corbett O’Meara has made a series of decisions, some favoring so-called juvenile lifers who were given no-parole sentences when they were under 18. But some rulings were stopped by an appeals court.
O’Meara closed the case Tuesday, noting that Michigan law has greatly changed because of decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court. No-parole sentences for teenagers still are possible but they’re not mandatory.
O’Meara says judges can consider the “factors of youth” when they sentence teens.
Attorney Deborah LaBelle had urged O’Meara to strike the law as unconstitutional. She says no-parole sentences are supposed to be rare, but prosecutors still are trying to keep more than 200 inmates behind bars for life at new hearings.
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