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Milliken joins effort to win parole hearings for juvenile lifers

California inmates will be housed in a Baldwin prison beginning in 2011
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Former Michigan Gov. Bill Milliken is joining the call for parole hearing for juvenile lifers

Former Michigan Gov. William Milliken says more than 350 prison inmates sentenced to life without parole as juveniles deserve a chance at freedom. Milliken – along with more than 100 law school deans and retired judges and prosecutors – filed a brief today with the state Supreme Court.

The Michigan Supreme Court holds oral arguments in the case next month. The court will decide whether a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down automatic life without parole for juveniles applies retroactively – or only to current and future cases. The Milliken brief says justice demands that the decision should apply regardless of when a juvenile was sentenced.

It says juveniles sentenced before the decision have the same protections against cruel and unusual punishment as teens sentenced today. It also says Michigan’s indigent defense system is particularly unfair to juveniles. 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says families of murder victims deserve to know the rules will not be changed in their cases.

Michigan’s adult-time-for-adult-crimes law was signed 18 years ago by Gov. John Engler. William Milliken served as governor from 1969 to 1983.  

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.