A federal judge says the Michigan Department of Corrections cannot deny good conduct credits to former juvenile lifers who are now entitled to parole hearings.
The decision revokes part of a state law adopted to comply with a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision. That decision said automatic life without parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.
Deborah LaBelle is an attorney with the ACLU. She says the state is making it too hard for this group of Michigan inmates to win their freedom.
“I think there has been a resistance from the very beginning to the Supreme Court decisions,” said LaBelle, who holds Attorney General Bill Schuette responsible for foot-dragging by the state.
“I do think the state, through our current attorney general, has a bee in his bonnet about this issue, and they’re doing everything possible to stop kids from going home.”
Michigan was on the losing end of the argument over automatically sentencing juveniles convicted of first-degree murder to life without parole. Schuette also lost the argument on whether that decision applies retroactively to inmates already serving.
It’s now up to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to decide whether to file a challenge with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. His office says he’s reviewing the decision.