News and Updates from the Midwest

12.24.15 An Illinois appellate court finds that a mandatory life sentence is unconstitutional as applied to a 19 year old.  Read the opinion here.

10.27.14  In Lincoln, Nebraska, renowned juvenile justice researcher Mark Lipsey spoke to 370 county officials, juvenile justice program coordinators, and youth detention center directors about LB561, the juvenile justice reform legislation passed last year in Nebraska. You can read an article about his presentation here.

8.13.14  In 1982, a 17 year old was convicted of drug crimes in Michigan and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  In Wershe v. Combs et al., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit remanded the case to the district court to consider the impact of Wershe’s youth at the time of the crime and his arrest. This Graham case further defines a “meaningful and realistic opportunity for parole.”

8.5.14  A 12-year-old Michigan boy was charged as an adult with open murder in connection with the death of a 9 year old. Two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin are also currently facing attempted homicide charges in adult court in connection with the stabbing of a fellow 12-year-old. Every state allows juveniles to be tried as adults for certain criminal offenses.

7.18.14  The Iowa Supreme Court held  in State v. Lyle that mandatory minimum sentences violate the Iowa Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment when applied to juveniles.

7.8.14  The Michigan Supreme Court concluded in State v. Carp that Miller is not retroactive.  Michigan becomes one of only three states–Minnesota and Pennsylvania are the other two–to reach this conclusion.  Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa and Massachusetts have concluded that Miller is retroactive.

5.31.13  The Minnesota Supreme Court held in Chambers v. State that Miller is not retroactive. Chambers filed a habeas petition in the Minnesota federal district court; a reply from the state is pending. Three other cases about whether Miller is retroactive have been filed in the 8th Circuit. Two are appeals from denial of the defendant’s habeas petitions in the district court and one is a state appeal from the federal district court’s grant of the habeas.