After MSC Order Michigan Juvenile Lifers Resentenced
On April 25, 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an order effectively requiring Michigan Juvenile lifers resentenced after the United States Supreme Court issued its written opinion on the concerns of juveniles serving prison terms without the chance of parole for certain crimes and convictions. This Order issued by the Michigan Supreme Court has an impact on several individuals currently serving life sentences for criminal convictions committed while they were juveniles. Because of this order those cases will be reviewed and new sentences are possibly going to be handed down.
The Michigan Supreme Court in People v Carp is the case where the Order originated. The Court explained that it was following the mandate set out in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Montgomery v Louisiana, 577 US ___; 136 S Ct 718; 193 L Ed 2d 599 (2016), and Miller v Alabama, 567 US ___; 132 S Ct 2455; 183 L Ed 2d 407 (2012). Therefore, this could mean all Michigan Juvenile lifers resentenced could escape their life sentences that they are currently serving. The issue is whether the life sentence is appropriate for juveniles. It must be remembered that juveniles only face life sentences for certain crimes committed here in Michigan, such as murder. The United States Supreme Court decision has impacted future sentencing hearings for juveniles, but it seems that it will also not affect those already sentenced. Essentially, providing a sentence to a juvenile that includes a life sentence is ultimately cruel and unusual, and thus violates the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court did not say that juveniles could never receive a life sentence, yet the court limited those sentencings to special cases and circumstances.
In order to substantiate and obtain a life sentence for a juvenile offender, the court must find specific factors indicating that such a sentence is appropriate. This issue with juvenile life sentencings is apart of the current movement and change in criminal sentencings occurring throughout the United States. Sentencing reform is a major concern, which is bringing about the change in understanding and identifying proper and justifiable sentencings for all individuals, including juveniles.
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