Section 1983 Challenge Gives Certain Inmates Hope | Speaker Law
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Section 1983 Challenge Gives Certain Inmates Hope

Posted on Monday, May 14, 2018

On Wednesday, a Federal Judge gave some Michigan inmates a ray of hope. Prison inmates who had been convicted as a juvenile and sentenced to life without parole filed suit seeking a ruling that MCL 791.234(6)(a) - Michigan’s parole statute - was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v Alabama. 132 S Ct 2455 (2012). Noted by Judge O’Meara in his opinion in Henry v Snyder, Eastern District of Michigan (2013) (Case No 10-14568), “[i]n Miller, the Court found mandatory life without parole sentencing schemes for juveniles convicted of homicide to be unconstitutional.” The Federal District Court went on to say that in its opinion, the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller would apply retroactively for a couple of reasons. The first, is that this proceeding was not a collateral review; secondly, because this was a substantive ruling, rather than procedural; and finally, because this case was pending while Miller was decided. However, the Trial Court also stated that because Plaintiffs could not and did not challenge their sentences under the § 1983 suit, their sentences would not be affected. That being said, the Trial Court also stated that “[a]s a result [of MCL 791.244(b) being found unconstitutional], Plaintiffs will be eligible and considered for parole.” The Trial Court concluded its opinion by setting dates for briefing of how the Plaintiffs will be afforded “a fair and meaningful possibility of parole.” Therefore, inmates like Jennifer Pruitt–who was convicted of first degree homicide even though she did not commit the murder, now have hope of someday being released on parole and potentially attacking their sentences under habeas review.

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