Michigan's Supreme Court considers further reducing life sentences without parole

DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has announced it would consider cases that could lead on to a ban on automatic life sentences for individuals who were 19 or 20 years old after they participated in a serious crime akin to murder.

The Court took a big step in 2022 When it was said that mandatory prison sentences without parole for 18-year-olds convicted of murder violated the Michigan Constitution's ban on “cruel or unusual” punishments.

The court will now consider whether this principle needs to be prolonged to individuals aged 19 or 20.

In an order Friday, the Supreme Court said it would hear arguments in cases from Wayne and Oakland counties in the approaching months.

In Michigan, life sentences without parole are still possible for people under 18, but they aren’t any longer automatic. Judges must conduct hearings and learn concerning the person's childhood, education, rehabilitation opportunities and other aspects. The burden of proof is on prosecutors, who must show, in the event that they so select, that a life sentence is suitable.

Critics of life sentences for young people argue that their brains are usually not yet fully developed, which sometimes results in tragic decisions.

Life sentences without parole for minors are prohibited in several states across the country, particularly following a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions starting in 2012. Massachusetts' highest court in January the minimum age for an automatic life sentence was raised from 18 to 21 years.

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