WGVU donate banner

Saturday, March 28, 2015

FacebookFlickrTwitterYouTubeLinkedIn
 
Public Media Catagories
PBS Link Create Link WorldView Link NPR Link Real Oldies Link wgvu
All Things Considered
WGVU Top Story

Michigan Supreme Court to decide fate of 350 juvenile lifers


March 6, 2014 | MPRN  Governor Rick Snyder just signed a new law this week to update Michigan’s sentencing policies to reflect that Supreme Court decision. But that doesn’t settle what happens to Matthew Bentley.

“I was 15 years old and being in a rush to be a man. I made a mistake and now 14 years later I’m still in prison, missing out on everything I was in a rush to get.”

That is Bentley from a podcast provided by the American Civil Liberties Union. He shot and killed a woman during a break-in at her home. He says he would take it all back if he could.

“I sometimes think about what could have happened, what could have been different. There’s a possibility I could have went down a different path, had I gotten some better advice, had I been shown a better way, had I actually had a role model.” 

Because of the US Supreme Court decision, juveniles convicted of murder or aiding and abetting in a murder now must have a hearing that takes into account their circumstances – abuse or neglect, how culpable they were in the crime, things like that. The court said the absence of that made automatic life without parole for juveniles cruel and unusual punishment.

Now, the ACLU and three juvenile lifers are suing the state. They say if automatic life without parole is unconstitutional going forward, then that same logic should apply to those earlier 350-plus cases, some of which date back to the early 1960s.

Kimberly Thomas is a law professor with the University of Michigan’s Juvenile Justice Clinic. She says we’ve learned a lot in recent years about shortcomings in how the legal system deals with juveniles. She says teenagers are often poor clients.

“It’s hard to get them to understand the choices that they’re making. Especially when faced with what might be good plea bargains, they just aren’t making good choices.”

Thomas says representing minors is a unique set of skills that most defense attorneys just don’t have. And she says the proof of that is how often juveniles get tougher sentences than adults involved in the same murders, even when the juvenile was only an accessory to the crime.    

The decision in this case before the state Supreme Court will likely turn on a legal nuance.

To win, the juvenile lifers have to show the US Supreme Court decision represents a substantive change in their legal rights. The state, on the other hand, is arguing that it’s not – that this was a procedural decision. It has no bearing on their guilt or innocence, and that means there’s no responsibility to go back and correct their sentences.

But this is not a nuance for another group of people closely following this case.

“We’re the innocent, and we deserve some kind of closure to this…”

Jody Robinson’s brother was murdered by a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old. And she says don’t call that a “mistake.” Robinson gets angry, visibly upset, when she hears that teens are sentenced to –quote- “die” in prison.

“They weren’t sentenced to die – period. They were sentenced to live the rest of their life in prison. They’re living. They’re not dead, and there’s a big difference between the two.”

Robinson says families like hers will never get their loved ones back -- and changing the rules now would deny them the measure of peace that once came with finality in their cases.

For the Michigan Public Radio Network, I’m Rick Pluta in Lansing  

More WGVU News
Yesterday
Businesses join Start Garden to boost interactive technology
Grand Rapids MI  March 27, 2015  |  WGVU  Six businesses are joining western Michigan entrepreneur Rick DeVos' Start Garden venture capital effort to help boost the development of new interactive technologies.    
Autopsies scheduled for Detroit children found in freezer
Detroit, MI  March 27, 2015  |  WGVU  Autopsies are scheduled on the bodies of two children found in a deep freezer in their Detroit home.    
Unvaccinated students told to stay home amid chickenpox
Birmingham, MI  March 27, 2015  |  WGVU  Unvaccinated children at some schools in a Detroit-area district are being told to stay home from classes until April 14 after three cases of chickenpox were diagnosed.    
Think Summer: Cottage & Lakefront Living Show
Grand Rapids MI  March 27, 2015  |  WGVU  For many, there’s nothing like summer in Michigan. With signs of warmer weather ahead, the Cottage and Lakefront Living Show is primed to get Michiganders thinking of summer.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Chief judge encourages pursuit of criminal justice careers
  March 27, 2015  |  WGVU  After fifteen years on the bench, Kent County district judge Sara Smolenski shares challenges and takeaways with women interested in criminal justice careers.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Autopsies determine children found in freezer were slain
  March 27, 2015  |  AP  Autopsies have determined that two children found dead in a freezer in their Detroit home were beaten to death, with the youngest child also suffering "thermal injuries."    
Court of Appeals refuses to toss staffer lawsuit against lawmaker
  March 27, 2015  |  MPRN  The Michigan Court of Appeals has rejected a lawmaker’s attempt to use legislative immunity to fend off a sexual harassment lawsuit.   
MI’s defense of same-sex marriage ban delivered to Supreme Court
  March 27, 2015  |  MPRN  Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office has delivered the state's defense of its same-sex marriage ban to the US Supreme Court. The court will hear arguments in the case next month.   

Thursday
Union hosts exhibition featuring art created by Ford workers
Detroit, MI  March 26, 2015  |  WGVU  The United Auto Workers union is hosting an exhibition of 90 artworks created by Ford Motor Co. employees across the country.    
Inkster manager, NAACP set news conference on police beating
Inkster, MI  March 26, 2015  |  WGVU  Authorities in the Detroit suburb of Inkster are planning a news conference to discuss the videotaped beating of a black motorist by white police officers.    
Workshops offered on foraging for safe wild mushrooms
Traverse City MI  March 26, 2015  |  WGVU  State-approved workshops are being offered this spring on how to forage for safe wild mushrooms.    
Funerals set for Michigan Marines killed in helicopter crash
Warren MI  March 26, 2015  |  WGVU  Funeral services take place this week for two of three Michigan Marines killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash off the coast of Florida during a training mission earlier this month.    
Planned Parenthood GR office completes $2M facelift
  March 26, 2015  |  WGVU  A $2 million renovation of Planned Parenthood’s Grand Rapids office updates everything but the exterior bricks.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
House approves bill to cut welfare payments if kids persistently miss school
  March 26, 2015  |  WGVU  A bill to end cash assistance for families with truant children has cleared the state House   
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Expanded services now available to Kent County veterans
  March 26, 2015  |  WGVU  Kent County Veterans Services has a new home that administrators say will provide better access and delivery of services.   
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
GVSU leads the nation in charter school authorizer accreditation
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  March 26, 2015  |  WGVU  Grand Valley State University is Michigan’s largest charter school authorizer overseeing 69 charter schools. Ensuring quality it completed an external review; the result? Grand Valley State University’s Charter Schools Office is the national leader in charter school accreditation.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Michigan House approves bill prohibiting drones for hunting
LANSING, Mich.  March 26, 2015  |  AP  Michigan's House has approved two bills that would prohibit the use of drones by hunters and those seeking to interfere with hunting.   
Michigan House approves bill changing concealed carry law
LANSING, Mich.  March 26, 2015  |  AP  Retired federal law enforcement officers would be able to carry a concealed weapon in "gun-free" zones under a bill approved by the Michigan House.   
Michigan's Snyder pushes tax increase before a 2016 decision
WASHINGTON   March 26, 2015  |  AP  Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is fighting for one more accomplishment before deciding whether to run for the Republican nomination for president: Michigan's largest tax increase in decades.   
Bills require schools, daycares to post vaccination rates
  March 26, 2015  |  AP  New legislation would require Michigan schools and daycare providers to post their immunization rates online or in their building.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Michigan Senate votes to give judges a pay raise
  March 26, 2015  |  AP  Michigan judges would get a raise under a bill moving forward in the Legislature.    
Legislature takes aim at MEDC in budget proposal
  March 26, 2015  |  MPRN  State lawmakers are taking bites out of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation budget. A Senate subcommittee just voted to eliminate state money for a business attraction program.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download

Wednesday
Endangered bird species to return to Great Lakes region
Grand Rapids MI  March 25, 2015  |  WGVU  A wildlife expert says one of the state's endangered species will soon return to Michigan after spending winter in a warmer climate.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Michigan sheriff increases security after Louisiana attack
Freeland, MI  March 25, 2015  |  WGVU  A sheriff says he's increasing security at MBS International Airport in Michigan following an attack by a machete-wielding man at an airport in Louisiana.    
Cargo shipping season resuming on upper Great Lakes
Sault Ste. Marie, MI  March 25, 2015  |  WGVU  Another cargo shipping season is underway on the upper Great Lakes.    
Grand Rapids asks for Army Corps help to keep out lampreys
Grand Rapids MI  March 25, 2015  |  WGVU  Grand Rapids officials are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend about $10 million for a new barrier to keep invasive sea lampreys from moving up the Grand River.    
Sap run! Holland couple makes own maple syrup from scratch
Holland MI  March 25, 2015  |  WGVU  It's spring and that means a Holland couple is making maple syrup.    
Crowd Funding: Game Changer for Business
Grand Rapids MI  March 25, 2015  |  WGVU   So, you want to start a business? Or perhaps help out a person down on their luck? Ever think of “crowdfunding” as the way to go? At a recent conference at GVSU for women entrepreneurs the topic of crowdfunding was highlighted. A local strategist says crowdfunding is a major “game-changer” in the way we do business.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Grand Rapids task force takes holistic approach to crime
  March 25, 2015  |  WGVU  Recommendations from a Grand Rapids crime and violence task force include proactive policing and law enforcement technologies such as ShotSpotter. But they also tackle underlying contributors to crime by focusing on youth, employment and mental health.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Bill would gradually lift electric company competition limits
  March 25, 2015  |  AP  A Republican senator has introduced legislation to gradually lift Michigan's limit on competition for electricity customers.   
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Flanagan: Charter school authorizers no longer at risk of being suspended
  March 25, 2015  |  MPRN  State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says seven institutions no longer risk losing their ability to open new charter schools in Michigan.   
Michigan’s monthly unemployment rate has dropped its lowest point in 14 years.
  March 25, 2015  |  MPRN  MI jobless rate drops to 5.9 percent.    

Tuesday
Report shows strong outlook for Michigan's tourism industry
Grand Rapids MI  March 24, 2015  |  WGVU   A new report says that Michigan's tourism industry grew in 2014 despite the cold, wet year, and the tourism outlook is sunny going forward.    
Vaccination rates for Michigan schoolchildren edge higher
Kalamazoo MI  March 24, 2015  |  WGVU  State numbers say vaccination rates for Michigan schoolchildren are edging higher.    
Ribbons put up after boy hit by pickup on way to school
Marshall, MI  March 24, 2015  |  WGVU  Blue ribbons, pictures and posters have been put up in Marshall after a 12-year-old boy was hit and critically injured by a pickup truck while trying to board a school bus.    
Michigan officials urge caution to prevent spring wildfires
Lansing MI  March 24, 2015  |  WGVU  As the snow melts and spring approaches, Michigan officials are urging caution to prevent wildfires.    
Grand Rapids LiveArts will be "unprecedented" in the performing arts
  March 24, 2015  |  WGVU  Grand Rapids Van Andel Arena will host a unique performing arts program in April. It’s called LiveArts. An event combining - for the first time - performances from the Grand Rapids Symphony, Opera Grand Rapids, Broadway Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Ballet on one massive stage.   
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Grand Rapids sets backyard chicken permit fees
  March 24, 2015  |  WGVU  Grand Rapids officials iron out details related to residential chicken coops within city limits.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
GM recalls Chevy Malibus to fix sunroof control issue
DETROIT  March 24, 2015  |  AP  General Motors is recalling nearly 92,000 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedans to fix a problem with the power sunroof controls.   
House GOP calls for savings from health department merger
LANSING, Mich.   March 24, 2015  |  AP  Michigan's House signaled it won't try to block the proposed merger of the state's Community Health and Human Services departments, but it will seek cost savings as a result.   
Mercedes recalls 30,000 cars to fix rear tail lamp problem
DETROIT  March 24, 2015  |  AP  Mercedes-Benz is recalling just over 30,000 CLS-Class cars in the U.S. because the LED tail lamps may not light properly on the sides.   
Bipartisan package aims to help domestic violence survivors
LANSING, Mich.   March 24, 2015  |  AP  A new bipartisan package of bills being introduced in the Michigan Legislature aims to support survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.   
House GOP's K-12 budget markedly different from Snyder's
LANSING, Mich.  March 24, 2015  |  AP  Republicans in the Michigan House are proposing a school budget that's markedly different from what Gov. Rick Snyder outlined last month.   
West Michigan County votes to keep sign with Bible verse
GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich.  March 24, 2015  |  AP  Commissioners in a western Michigan county have given final approval to the reinstallation of a park sign that quotes the Bible.   
Proposal targeting Lake Erie algae clears Ohio committee
  March 24, 2015  |  AP   New rules for farmers that are designed to reduce the toxic algae in Lake Erie have cleared a legislative panel after several revisions.    
Model civil rights ordinance for local governments includes LGBT protections
  March 24, 2015  |  MPRN  The state Civil Rights Commission hopes to help local governments draft non-discrimination laws.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download

Monday
Parts of Michigan's Lower Peninsula see risk of wildfires
Grand Rapids MI  March 23, 2015  |  WGVU  Officials say there's a risk of wildfires in parts of Michigan's Lower Peninsula amid recent dry weather.    
Budget cuts pose threat to police training in Michigan
Livonia, MI  March 23, 2015  |  WGVU  Michigan's law enforcement experts say criminal justice will suffer if the state cannot find funding for continued police training.    
Another sign of spring: Bell's releasing kegs of Oberon
Kalamazoo MI  March 23, 2015  |  WGVU  A sign of spring is arriving in Michigan with the annual release of kegs of Oberon beer.    
Grant Me Hope works to find homes for older children
Holland MI  March 23, 2015  |  WGVU  An organization started by a Fillmore Township couple aims to find homes for older children in need of adoptions.    
Same-sex couples married in Michigan celebrate anniversaries
Lansing MI  March 23, 2015  |  WGVU  Families and friends have gathered in four Michigan counties to celebrate the anniversary of about 300 same-sex couples who wed last year during a brief legal window as a result of a challenge to Michigan's constitutional ban on gay marriages.    
Blacks proportion of state police down by half since 1993
Lansing MI  March 23, 2015  |  WGVU  The number of black Michigan state troopers has fallen from 12.5 percent to 5.2 percent of the force in the 22 years since federal oversight of racial hiring practices ended 22 years ago.    
AAA Michigan: Gas prices rise 20 cents in past week to $2.48
Dearborn, MI  March 23, 2015  |  WGVU  AAA Michigan reports statewide gas prices have increased by about 20 cents a gallon within the past week.    
Spring Break Travel:101
Grand Rapids MI  March 23, 2015  |  WGVU  Spring break season is in full swing. For many that can mean hitting the highways or the sky ways which can also mean travel headaches. If you’re headed to the airport, we’ve got some tips. A local travel expert who tells us what we need to know, “before” we go.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Google Street View climbs, kayaks through Michigan
  March 23, 2015  |  WGVU  People across the world can take in the sights of Michigan virtually through a state partnership with Google.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Outside review of GRPD-involved shootings proposed
  March 23, 2015  |  WGVU  Investigation of Grand Rapids officer-involved shootings would be handled by an outside agency under new policy that meets review Tuesday morning.    
 Listen    Download Audio File Download
Michigan Traffic Safety Summit looks at host of road issues
  March 23, 2015  |  AP  The 2015 Michigan Traffic Safety Summit will feature sessions on current issues, including motorists distracted by technology, crashes involving veterans back from their deployments and enforcement involving drivers suspected of using marijuana.    
Requiring police to wear body cams, state lawmakers could try again
  March 23, 2015  |  MPRN  A bill in the state House would require on-duty police officers to wear body cameras.   
 Listen    Download Audio File Download

radio
Listen Live to WGVU-AM
Listen Live to WGVU-FM
Follow us on Twitter
WGVU News Page Sponsored by:
Amtrak
 
 
Home    Privacy Policies    Contact WGVU    GVSU.edu    PBS.org    NPR.org
Copyright 1997-2015 | WGVU is a service of Grand Valley State University | GVSU is an EO/AA institution