Advocates push for ending life without parole for minors

Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 9:17 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - At a rally in Lansing Tuesday, advocates were pushing for bills that would end “life without parole” for minors.

The move comes as Oxford school shooter Ethan Crumbley, faces a possible sentence that could keep him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Safe and Just Michigan said kids change and grow over time, as their brains have yet to fully develop. That’s why they’re advocating to end life without parole for kids.

“Kids can’t vote, or join the military, or enter into contracts, yet we will charge them as adults and sentence them to die in prison without a second thought,” said Safe and Just Michigan Executive Director John Cooper.

With a package of bills, they’d like to replace the life without parole sentencing for minors to a minimum of 10 to 60 years.

They say Michigan has more juvenile “life-ers” than any other state in the country, and that those kids deserve a second chance.

“This is the case even for kids who do very bad things,” said Cooper. “We don’t know what a person’s gonna be like 40-50 years from now, and we don’t believe that a judge can make a judgment that a person is irredeemable when they’re not even 18 years old.”

However, Crumbley’s court hearing last Friday ruled that a sentence of life without parole can be considered for the 17-year-old Oxford school shooter.

The civil lawyer representing some of Crumbley’s victims, says these sentences are needed for rare cases like his.

“As opposed to passing a law, that says no matter what they do they never can be imprisoned for life without parole. This is one of those perhaps rare cases, this child deserves to be in prison the rest of his life without parole in my opinion,” said Ven Johnson, the Civil Attorney for Oxford victims.

A decision that could determine the future of young criminal defendants facing serious crimes and possibly serious time behind bars.

The bills working to end life without parole sentencing for minors are still awaiting a vote from Michigan’s House and Senate.

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