Juvenile Life Without Parole: An Introduction 1How Children are Sentenced to Life Without Parole 2Characteristics of Juvenile Lifers in Michigan 4Michigan Laws Leading to Increases in Juvenile Life Sentences 8Kids Are Different: Children in Society and the Justice System 13Juvenile Life Without Parole Does Not Serve the Interests of Justice 17The Law: Juvenile Life Without Parole is a Cruel andDisproportionate Punishment 20Human Rights: Children’s Rights and Wrongs 21Second Chances: Alternatives and Policy Recommendations 22Conclusion 24Notes 25
The report is dedicated to the juvenilelifers and their families.This report was prepared by DeborahLaBelle, Director of the Juvenile Life WithoutParole Initiative, Anna Phillips, ResearchCoordinator, and Laural Horton, ResearchAssistant. The report was made possiblewith the generous funding and support ofthe JEHT Foundation, the sponsorship of theACLU of Michigan and the encouragementof the Open Society Institute through aSenior Soros Justice Fellowship. SteveHawkins, Senior Program Manager at theJEHT Foundation, was instrumental inconceptualizing the need for a report on theissue of juveniles serving life without parole.Kary Moss, Director of ACLU of Michigan, hascontributed her own considerable intellectand vision in editing drafts and supportingthe project. Jackie Baillargeon, ProgramDirector of OSI’s Gideon Project, continuesto provide necessary support for thisadvocacy project.The report is grounded on the work ofmany researchers and advocates for a fairand humane criminal justice system forjuveniles, including the Sentencing Project,ABA’s Juvenile Justice Project, HumanRights Watch and Amnesty International. InMichigan, Dr. Rosemary Sarri, whose visionfor juvenile justice has motivated manyand Barbara Levine, as Director of CitizensAlliance on Prisons and Public Spending,have provided invaluable assistance.Nicole Hall, Jessie Matthews, MiriamD’Jaen, Jennifer Ireland, Betsy Moeckeland Alvia Golden, all contributed their time,energy, and ideas to this project. Withouttheir efforts, this report would have neverbeen completed.