Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hearing on Bills to End Life Without Parole Sentences for Juveniles in Michigan

"Youth of color sentenced to die in prison are collateral damage
in the fierce crosswinds of failed public policies." —Efrén Paredes, Jr.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 the Michigan House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on House Bills 4518 and 4594-4596. The hearing will take place at the Anderson House Office Building at 10:30 AM.

The bills would prohibit judges from sentencing people convicted of crimes they were accused of committing as juveniles to life without parole (LWOP) sentences. It would also make prisoners who are currently serving these sentences eligible for release after 10 years.

Passage of the bills will not release a single prisoner. It will only give the prisoners parole consideration. It is important to understand this fact so that the public is not mislead to believe that the bills will automatically release prisoners. This is the strategy that the media and legislators opposed to the bills have been utilizing to instill fear in the public and dissuade other legislators from passing the bills.

It is very important that there be as many people present at the hearing as possible to express support for the bills. At last year's hearing over 100 people attended to express their support. They were all part of a very successful effort that lead to passage of the bills in the House by a large margin.

Unfortunately last year's bills did not make it to the Senate for a vote. This year several legislators are determined to push the legislation forward. With your help we can help make that a reality.

We look forward to seeing as many of you that can attend at the hearing. Please mark this date in your calendars.

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