Fact Sheets
Featured Video
  • National Press Club Forum: A 25-Year Vision for Criminal Justice Reform
  • Unlocking Justice: Alternatives to Prison
State Contacts


June 19, 2009 (Detroit Free Press)
Lift for ban on second chances for juvenile prison lifers

Michigan is re-examining its laws that are currently sending juveniles to prison for life without parole – not only because of budget constraints, but because it’s an “unreasonable” law, according to an editorial by the Detroit Free Press. “The time is right to end this … inhuman law that, in effect, declares young people beyond redemption. There are serious moral and constitutional problems with sentencing juveniles to mandatory life sentences,” the editorial states. It further notes Congressional interest in re-evaluating juvenile life without parole policies, as a legislative hearing was recently held on the issue. The U.S. Supreme Court, too, will be considering two Florida cases which could affect sentencing of juveniles to life without parole.

June 11, 2009 (Detroit Free Press)
Focus more on prevention

Michigan Senator Liz Brater has introduced a package of bills that would prohibit juvenile life without parole sentencing policies and wrote in the Detroit Free Press about the necessity of abandoning such guidelines.

“There are more than 350 people in the Michigan prison system who were under age 18 when sentenced to spend the rest of their life in prison without the possibility of parole. Many of them were abused or neglected as children," states Brather. "Many had emotional disorders. Many committed crimes with older codefendants who received lesser sentences. The United States stands alone in the industrialized world in allowing children to be sentenced to life without parole. Michigan ranks third among states that sentence children to life, just behind Pennsylvania and Louisiana …These bills do not release a single felon. They allow those who were already sentenced to life in prison without parole to go before the Parole Board to have their case reviewed after 10 years.”

March 24, 2009 (New York Times)
To Cut Costs, States Relax Prison Policies

“For nearly three decades, most states have dealt with lawbreakers in two ways: lock more of them up for longer periods, and build more prisons to hold them. Now many governments, out of money and buried under mounting prison costs, are reversing many of those policies and practices.” The New York Times reports that some states are closing prisons, others have substituted community programs for jail time or parole violations, and in New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson repealed the death penalty.

February 24, 2009 (Michigan Messenger)
Juveniles Sentenced to Life without Parole Cost the State Millions

Michigan's prisons incarcerate nearly 350 inmates who are serving life sentences – without parole – for crimes they committed as children, the Michigan Messenger reported. Sen. Liz Brater has introduced legislation which would stop sending minors to prison for life – a practice only the United States allows.

“It is inhumane and it is inappropriate to take children before their brains are fully developed and subject them to same sentence that adults would get,” Brater said. “Many of them were sentenced along with an adult defender who got a lesser sentence and many of these youth were victims of abuse or neglect in their homes or are people with mental illness or disability.

January 4, 2009 (Detroit Free Press)
Sexual assaults on female inmates went unheeded

The Detroit Free Press is featuring a five-part special report on a multi-million dollar suit that has resulted from the sexual assault of female inmates by male guards in Michigan prisons. More than 500 women are suing and, thus far, stand to collect $50 million. "A prison is not supposed to turn you back out to society with more harm than when you came in," said Deborah LaBelle, an Ann Arbor civil rights lawyer who led a team that sued on behalf of the women. "No one, no one in this country, no one in a civilized society is sentenced to be raped and assaulted in prison."

September 2012 State Collateral Consequences Reform Webinar

The Sentencing Project co-hosted a webinar with the ACLU, Crossroad Bible Institute, National Employment Law Project, and the National H.I.R.E. Network.

The webinar provided an overview of efforts to reform collateral consequences including access to employment, felony enfranchisement, and access to public benefits. 

Author: Nicole D. Porter

September 2012 State Collateral Consequences Legislative Roundup 2012

This report documents 2012 changes in state policy regarding collateral conequences.  The report was a collaboration with The Sentencing Project, ACLU, Crossroad Bible Institute, National Employment Law Project, and the National H.I.R.E. Network. 

This paper is organized into the following policy categories: (1) “ban the box”; (2) employer negligent hiring protections; (3) expungement and sealing; (4) federal public benefits opt-out legislation; (5) felony enfranchisement; and and (6) Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act legislation.

Author: Nicole D. Porter

December 2011 (The Sentencing Project) Model Legislation for State Sentencing Reform

"Model Legislation for State Sentencing Reform" provides an overview of state legislation enacted or introduced to lower state prison populations and reduce the reliance on incarceration as a social policy.

June 2010 (The Sentencing Project) State Recidivism Database

Provides references for 99 recidivism studies conducted between 1995-2009 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

March 2010 (The Sentencing Project, Justice Strategies) Downscaling Prisons: Lessons from Four States

Finds that four states – Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York – have reduced their prison populations by 5-20% since 1999 without any increases in crime. 65 pages.

Author: Judith Greene, Marc Mauer

Upcoming Events

No Upcoming Events found.