Hearings open on fixing juvenile lifer law

Michigan Public Radio Network


The state Legislature held a hearing Tuesday on re-writing Michigan’s juvenile lifer law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this summer that it is unconstitutional.

The state is appealing a federal court order to hold parole hearings for more than 350 inmates sentenced to automatic life without parole for first degree murder.

In the meantime, the Legislature must re-write the law.

State Representative Joe Haveman said action is overdue. And he said the new law should apply to people currently sentenced to life without parole as juveniles.

“I’m not suggesting that these men and women should be set free. I’m suggesting that a small number of them may someday deserve a second look,” Haveman said.

“I don’t think for a 16-year-old, he shouldn’t have to think too hard to say, kill or not-kill,” Cotaling said.

Jack Cotaling said he and his family thought his son’s killers’ fate was settled. He says parole hearings would force his family to re-live their tragedy.