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House panel grapples with changing juvenile lifer law

Alex Williamson
Getty Images

The state House Criminal Justice Committee opened hearings today on legislation that could allow people sentenced to life in prison when they were teenagers the possibility of parole. Rick Pluta reports.

There are roughly 300 people in Michigan prisons serving sentences of life without parole after being convicted as juveniles of murder. The bills before the Legislature would allow juvenile lifers to request a parole hearing after serving at least 10 years. Democratic Representative Stephanie Young says that does not mean a parole board has to go easy on a felon.

“If they do their job right, there are areas where we’re saying, this one’s just not right, it’s just not time, then they won’t be let go.” said Young.

The sponsors say they are working on amendments to ensure the legislation would not cover juveniles responsible for mass murders.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network.