juvenile prisoners

Starting in October 2021, 17-year-olds will no longer automatically be treated as adults in Michigan’s criminal justice system. 


The governor will now have to decide if the criminal justice system should stop automatically treating 17-year-olds as adults.

Bills that would raise the age of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction from 17 to 18-years-old are one step closer to the governor’s desk.

'Irredeemable' wins national award for 'Best Series'

Jun 27, 2018
Aaron Selbig

IPR’s series “Irredeemable" has won two national awards from Public Radio News Directors, Incorporated. 

Morgan Springer

 

(Editor’s note: we recommend you listen to the story.)

In March 2001, Fred Williams left his friend Tanya Davis’ house to get groceries. He was 17 and living on the west side of Detroit. Fred says he weighed two options before he left.

“I had Hometown Groceries on Joy Road and Wyoming,” Fred recalls, “or I had Foodarama on Livernois and Julian.”

Fred chose Foodarama because he could buy spaghetti ingredients and make a drug sale at the same time. He’d been selling drugs for about three years – mostly as a “corner boy” selling for someone else.

Michigan prosecutors have come under national scrutiny for what critics have argued is an effort to ignore, or at least slowly comply with, the recent Supreme Court rulings that require all juveniles sentenced to mandatory life without parole to have their sentences reconsidered.

All this week, we’re looking at juvenile lifers in Michigan -- those inmates sentenced to mandatory life without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were minors.

Michigan ranks second in the number of prisoners who fit this classification. There are more than 360 juvenile lifers in Michigan, and a series of U.S. Supreme Court cases has meant that Michigan has to take a second look at the sentences these inmates were given.

There are roughly 42,000 men and women serving time in prison in the state of Michigan. They all have stories of how they got there, ranging from poor choices and a bad upbringing to just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Shaka Senghor, a leading criminal justice reform activist, is now telling his story. He is currently a mentor to youth, and a leader in helping victims and violent offenders heal through the power of the arts. But he didn’t start out that way.