This week the state of Michigan Supreme Court decided, in a 4-3 decision, that the United States Supreme Court ruling heralding life without parole sentences as "cruel and unusual" does not apply retroactively in Michigan. The reason? Because they believe justice to be served, they do not believe they have the proper information to determine if they were wrong in their conviction or sentencing and they are not about to take the time and look at these cases. What's done is done and that's all there is too it.
It is also interesting to note that Attorney General Bill Shuette is running for re-election in the November, 2014 election. Coincidence? Doubtful. It is also interesting to note that Michigan elects it's Supreme Court justices, nominated by their parties, to 8 year terms. There are three (3) Michigan Supreme Court Justices who are also running for re-election. Why is this important? Because, as an incumbent, it is not politically beneficial to deal with any volatile issues or take on any large changes to existing criminal justice practices.
"We are not confident that the justice achieved by a resentencing process taking place many years after the original trial and sentencing-- many years after the victims of the homicide have become little more than historical footnotes to all but their immediate families — and presided over by a judge who can never entirely be situated like the judge who presided over the trial, can effectively replicate the justice achieved at the initial sentencing," the court's majority opinion said.
"Instead, we believe that the trial court's ability to travel back in time to assess a defendant's mental state of some 20 years earlier-- evidence of which may not even have been gathered at the time-- is limited; that the recollection of memories about aggravating and mitigating circumstances-- evidence of which may again not even have been gathered at the time-- is questionable; and that, as a result, public confidence in the integrity and accuracy of those proceedings will understandably be low."
From Michigan Live PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE. IT IS WORTH THE READ.
Resentencing for these 350 individuals SHOULD be based on their ability to be rehabilitated, on their understanding of victim and community impact caused by their crimes, on the person they will become. They HAVE that information. Most of these inmates have been in prison a long time. They have studied...or not....changed....or not.....recounted the crimes in their heads with remorse...or not. The problem is not whether or not Michigan has the information to decide if these people deserve a second chance, but that Michigan does not want to give them one.
They have chosen not to uphold the Supreme Court of the United States ruling. They have chosen not to uphold the constitution of the United States as it has been weighed and interpreted by the Supreme Court Of the U.S. In the Graham ruling and the Miller/Jackson ruling the Supreme Court ruled that Juvenile Life Without Parole Sentences were unconstitutional because it was determined to be "cruel and unusual punishment". These were cases of individuals already sentenced to JLWOP and their cases were remanded to the lower courts for resentencing. It is clear that the landmark rulings handed down from our nations high court applied to those individuals already serving life sentences. These Michigan officials chose to do it their own way. Something to keep in mind with the upcoming elections. If they do their own thing concerning the constitution of the United States in this case, it could happen again.
Follow this link to Jonny's Etsy Art Shop