ACLU of Michigan Juvenile Justice Times Newsletter Please go to this link to read the entire newsletter. Here is an excerpt:
In the Courts: Are Juvenile Life Without Parole Sentences Cruel and Unusual Punishment?
This year, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide two cases involving the practice of sentencing of juveniles to life in prison without parole. The decisions will have clear implications for JLWOP cases in Michigan and other states.sentence.
The teen was sent to a juvenile detention facility where he will remain until he turns 21, at which point he will be reevaluated. At that point, even if the Supreme Court rulings in Miller and Jackson make LWOP unconstitutional for those 14 and under, Charles could still be subject to an adult sentence, possibly pardonable life.
In Jackson v. Hobbs and Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court will decide whether it is cruel and unusual punishment to sentence teens to life without parole for murder and felony murder. To learn more and see more information on these cases, go to www.endjlwop.org.
In a recent high profile Michigan case, fifteen-year-old Charles Lewis Jr. was facing a possible life without pa-role sentence last month after being convicted of participating in a crime that lead to a murder. He was just 13 at the time of the incident, and his father is alleged to be responsible for the fatal shooting.
The judge instead gave Charles a delayed, or blended sentence. The teen was sent to a juvenile detention
facility where he will remain until he turns 21, at which point he will be reevaluated. At that point, even if the
Supreme Court rulings in Miller and Jackson make LWOP unconstitutional for those 14 and under, Charles could still be subject to an adult sentence, possibly pardonable life.
According to attorney Deborah LaBelle, “the law is unclear when he would be eligible for parole. If the Supreme Court only strikes down mandatory sentences, which do not consider lessor culpability, this may not impact Charles as the Court was required to consider his youth in deciding on the sentence. We will have to see what the Court says.”
The other case making national headlines in Michigan this year was People v. Jones. In the first ruling of its kind since the U.S. Supreme Court declared juvenile life without parole sentences for non-capital crimes
unconstitutional in 2010, a judge in Kalamazoo overturned the sentence of Michigan prisoner Anthony Shamont Jones. Anthony was just 17 when he left the scene of a robbery before his companion shot the store owner to death. Anthony was re-sentenced to life with parole.
In the ruling, the court remarked that Anthony “is one of the juveniles whom the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham attempts to shield from a life in prison without even the potential for re-entry into society. This is so primarily because Defendant did not kill [the victim].”
This historic case also recognized that a 17 year-old would be considered a juvenile, despite Michigan's law setting the adult age at 17 for all criminal prosecutions.
As he has served 33 years, Anthony is now eligible for immediate release. The prosecutor will not appeal, and neither the prosecutor nor the victim’s family oppose parole.
Keep up to date on the latest news at www.aclumich.org or www.endjlwop.org