A state Senate panel has unanimously approved bills to overhaul Michigan's law that allowed automatic sentences of life without parole for juveniles in first-degree murder cases.
Under the two bills adopted yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, judges could still sentence a minor convicted of first-degree murder to life without the possibility of parole or choose to impose a term of at least 25-40 years in prison.
However, the legislation is not retroactive, meaning those sentenced as teens currently serving life sentences would still not be eligible for parole. The bills are designed to put the state in compliance with last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that automatically sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without parole was unconstitutional.
The legislation now heads to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate bills are in conflict with a House version that would allow those sentenced to life as juveniles to seek resentencing hearings or become eligible for parole after 15 years.
Michigan has the second-most prison inmates who were sentenced to life as juveniles.