The Legislature interrupts its summer recess for a quick return visit to the state Capitol this week. As part of its official business, a pair of House committees will go to work on fixing parts of Michigan’s criminal justice system.
Michigan has to change its juvenile lifer law in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The court said it’s unconstitutional to automatically send teenagers convicted of serious crimes to prison for life with no chance of parole. The state is in the process of scheduling new sentencing hearings for the roughly 180 people sentenced as juveniles to life without parole. A state House panel begins looking at how to amend the law tomorrow.
Also this week, the state House Judiciary Committee goes to work on changes to how Michigan ensures attorneys for criminal defendants who can’t afford to pay for one. A special commission has recommended ways to better ensure public defenders are properly trained and are not burdened with overwhelming caseloads.