Attorney Bryan Stevenson, director of the national Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, AL and Professor of Law at NYU Law School, is one of the endorsers of the Juvenile Lifer Rally for Justice in Detroit this Sunday. This video was made after he argued and won Graham v. Florida at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, which outlawed juvenile life without parole in non-homicide cases. He went on to argue and win Miller v Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs at the USSC in 2012, which outlawed juvenile life without parole for ALL crimes.
JUVENILE LIFER RALLY FOR JUSTICE
Sunday, June 18, 2-5 pm (Father’s Day)
Erma Henderson Park, 8810 E. Jefferson
“A sentence that perpetuates human storage in an austere world in which condemned prisoners are treated as bodies kept alive only to later be disposed of has no place in a civilized society.” — Efren Paredes, Jr.
Juveniles targeted unjustly by provision in MCL 769.25a that denies them use of good time credits–Cortez Davis-El, juvenile lifer
Vote vs. prosecutor and judges who abuse their authority by causing re-sentencing delays and ignoring established law–Charles Lewis
“It is not the will of the people to viciously condemn youth to spend their entire lives in human cages.”
By Necalli Ollin, BlogSpot for Efren Paredes, Jr. (excerpt)
“An online petition will also be launched that delivers emails to state lawmakers demanding passage of a 10-point prison reform platform that will impact every prisoner in the state. Included will be the restoring of good time, reducing the predatory pricing of prisoner phone calls, providing relief for prisoners serving life and long indeterminate sentences, and other important issues. Additional information about the event and the 10-point prison reform platform is available by visiting: http://www.facebook.com/events/643683492488946.
The collaborative effort is being led by Elena Herrada, adjunct professor at Marygrove College and Wayne County Community College, and Detroit AM 910 radio show host; and Efren Paredes, Jr., social justice advocate who was arrested in Berrien County at 15 and sentenced to life without parole in 1989. Students attending Herrada’s classes and others are also assisting organize the grassroots effort.
Those in attendance will include family members and supporters of juvenile lifers, youth advocates, attorneys, members of the faith-based community, legislators, representatives of civil and human rights organizations, bloggers, podcast producers, and members of the state and national television, print, and radio media. . .
Speakers will include: Efren Paredes, Jr., event co-organizer, blogger, and juvenile lifer; Dr. Austin Jackson, Director, Michigan State University My Brother’s Keeper Program (in video above); Rodd Monts, of the ACLU who does work with the School to Prison Pipeline program; Elena Herrada, AM 910 Detroit Superstation radio show host, Marygrove College professor, and member of Detroit School Board in Exile; Diane Bukowski, Editor of the Voice of Detroit newspaper; Dr. John Masterson, Peace Education Center of Greater Lansing board member, Michigan StateState University professor emeritus, and social justice activist; Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman of St. Peters Episcopal Church; Roberto Guzman, a Detroit paralegal and member of Peoples Task Force to Free the Wrongful Convicted; Elyse Blennerhassett, Columbia University graduate student, New York-based podcast producer, writer, and photographer (her work has been featured in The New Yorker, Truthout, and she is co-producer of the film “We All We Got.”); Ken Grunow, President of Amnesty International (Detroit); Hon. Peter Deegan, retired judge, prosecutor, and past President of the Prosecutors Association of Michigan; Tawanna Simpson, Detroit School Board member and social justice activist; Velia Koppenhoefer, member of The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee and mother of juvenile lifer Efren Paredes, Jr.; Representative from the Washington, DC-based Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth; also four former prisoners speaking who were convicted as juveniles who have gone on to do amazing things with their lives subsequent to their release.
Efforts will include urging citizens to vote against any prosecutors in the state who continue defying the U.S. Supreme Court by creating resentencing delays, abusing their authority, and arbitrarily pursuing LWOP sentences against juvenile lifers rather than term-of-year sentences.
[VOD: Juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, who has been in prison since 1976 for 41 years, also advocates campaigns to vote against elected judges hearing juvenile lifer re-sentencings who abuse their authority and discretion.
In his case, Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard has ignored State and U.S. Supreme Court precedents mandating dismissal of his case due to the complete loss of his official court file.
In addition, Wayne County Pprosecutor Kym Worthy’s office just partially denied VOD’s FOIA request for a copy of Lewis’ police homicide file, claiming excessive time to re-construct the file. AP Jason Williams said in court that he had the entire file already. It contains statements by numerous eye witnesses to the murder involved that would exonerate Lewis.]
Elected officials must be held accountable for their support of sentences that extinguish hope by being removed from office next election cycle. It is not the will of the people to viciously condemn youth to spend their entire lives in human cages.
According to Efren, “A sentence that perpetuates human storage in an austere world in which condemned prisoners are treated as bodies kept alive only to later be disposed of has no place in a civilized society.”
In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory LWOP sentences for juvenile offenders is unconstitutional and ordered the resentencing of the 2,500 prisoners affected nationwide. Of that number Michigan imprisons 363 juvenile lifers.
In a landmark ruling 16 months ago the high court strongly urged judges and prosecutors to pursue term-of-year sentences for those prisoners being resentenced. It held that the reimposition of a LWOP sentence must be “rare,” “uncommon,” and only reserved for those persons “who are incapable of change.”
Since that decision only a small fraction of Michigan’s juvenile lifers have been resentenced. Prosecutors have orchestrated incessant delays that have resulted in the death of six juvenile lifers waiting to be resentenced over the past five years.
Michigan prosecutors have also defied the U.S. Supreme Court by widely expressing their intent to pursue LWOP sentences again for 228 of the state’s 363 cases. This excessive number is hardly rare or uncommon.
Youth offenders have a remarkable capacity for change and deserve an opportunity to prove they possess redeemable qualities. State-sponsored death-by-incarceration is a deplorable policy that must be vehemently rejected and openly condemned by all people of conscience.
According to Efren, “We can not sit idly by and wait for prison reform to occur. We are all stakeholders in this very important matter. If we are not assertive with our agenda we will continue witnessing the same dismal results and failed representation by elected officials.”
He added, “The addiction to constructing prisons as the solution to the crime problem has been an abysmal failure that has destroyed an untold number of lives and manifested itself as the school-to-prison pipeline. It has also created crushing images of self-contempt, personal alienation, and a poverty of thought.”
Please invite friends and family members to attend the event, circulate the event widely on social media, and ask others to do the same. You can copy and paste the following sample paragraph to assist with this:
Support the “Juvenile Lifer Rally for Justice” on June 18, 2017 in Detroit and the 10-Point Prison Reform Platform that affects every female and male prisoner in the state serving short- and long-term sentences. Learn more about the event at: http://www.facebook.com/events/643683492488946.
People are urged to begin tuning in to Detroit Superstation AM 910 weekly Sunday mornings between 7:00 am and 8:00 am to hear Efren and Herrada discuss continued efforts to organize the “Juvenile Lifer Rally for Justice,” or hear it in real-time on the AM 910 website. You Tube videos of the shows will appear on the Free Efren Facebook page available at http://www.fb.com/Free.Efren.
People interested in attending the Rally for Justice, assisting with organizing, and/or receiving email updates can send a message to event organizers via email to ElenaMHerrada2@gmail.com. Please put “Rally for Justice” in the subject line of the email.
Initial list of endorsers: Amnesty International, Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), Human Rights Advocates, The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency (MCCD), Voice of Detroit Newspaper, Xica Nation, ACLU (Detroit), Humanity for Prisoners,
ICAN (Incarcerated Childrens’ Advocacy Network), Black Lives Matter,
LaSED (Latin American Social and Economic Development), Peace Education Center of Greater Lansing, The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee, South East Michigan Indians, Inc.. My Brother’s Keeper Prison Outreach Program (MBK-POP), National Lifers of America, Inc. (Chapter 1030), Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Detroit), St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
Keep the Vote No Takeover, Moratorium Now, Detroit School Board in Exile
DID THE MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE TARGET MICHIGAN’S JUVENILE OFFENDERS UNJUSTLY?
Denial of “good time credits” under MCL 769,25a violates “ex post facto” law, discriminates against juvenile lifers, costs taxpayers more money
BY CORTEZ DAVIS EL
VOD: Cortez Davis El is a juvenile lifer who was re-sentenced to 25 t0 60 years in April, despite his sterling prison record. He has only served 23 years so must now wait two years to even see the parole board. He was not the killer in the case. The level of his rehabilitation from a poverty-stricken child who dropped out of school to support his younger siblings, to an excellent writer and jail-house lawyer can be seen in his article.
Prior to December of 1998 all of Michigan’s prisoners with a term of year sentence were entitled to disciplinary credits and or good time.
These incentives were earned by both male and female prisoners for having little to no behavior problems. The knowledge that good time and or disciplinary credits were something that could return an individual back to his or her loved ones a little sooner than expected motivated prisoners to take a deep look at themselves and cut away the useless ungainly parts of their character and make the corners of their conduct symmetrical. In short, it motivated prisoners to change for the better.
Many prisoners that were serving life sentences held on to the hopes of one day receiving a term of year sentence so that the disciplinary credits and or good time that they’ve earned could be used toward their freedom. Many adult offenders who committed their crimes before December of 1998 that were serving life sentences have benefited from the laws that were in place at the time of their arrests. This means that adults that were resentenced to a term of years sentence after being told that they were going to spend the rest of their lives in prison got the benefit of having good time and or disciplinary credits deducted from their new term of year sentence, allowing them to become parole eligible more sooner than later.
For decades, the juvenile offenders that were sentenced to life in prison prior to December of 1998 were earning the same good time and or disciplinary credits as the adult offenders. The juvenile offenders made the same transformations that their adult counterparts made prior to being resentenced to a term of years. In most cases, the transformation of the juvenile offenders were more complex due to being children placed in an unnatural, harsh, and violent environment with an under developed mind.
On June 25, 2012, The United States Supreme Court handed down one of the most profound decisions directed toward child offenders. More plainly, the highest court in the land stated that for the purposes of sentencing children are different than adults and the states can not proceed as if children are adults. Miller v Alabama, 132 S Ct. 2455, made it clear that children are less deserving of a state’s harshest punishment, even if the child has committed the harshest crime.
The State of Michigan rejected the court’s wisdom and fought to block the high court’s decision from applying to Michigan juvenile offenders. In March of 2014, the Michigan Legislature passed legislation that allowed the state courts to resentence juvenile offenders that were sentenced to mandatory life without parole to a term of years, but only if the U.S. Supreme Court declared Miller v. Alabama retroactive and applicable to Michigan juvenile offenders.
On January 25, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court did in fact declare Miller v. Alabama retroactive and applicable to Michigan and all other states. ( see Montgomery v Louisiana, 136 S Ct 718 ) While the juvenile offenders were preparing for their day in court to demonstrate maturity and rehabilitation, the legislation that was passed denied them a meaningful and realistic opportunity for release by denying them the good time and or disciplinary credits that they had already earned.
In many ways, society can benefit from having those that once hurt the community return to help the community. When the Michigan Legislature enacted MCL 769.25a they violated the law and caused taxpayers to foot the bill for another round of appeals. MCL 800.33(3) allows every prisoner that was arrested prior to the enactment of truth in sentencing to earn good time and or disciplinary credits.
The enactment of MCL 769.25a which denies only juvenile offenders their earned good time and or disciplinary credits violates The Ex Post Facto Clause. The Ex Post Facto Clause prohibits a law that “changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime when committed.” More specifically, a law violates the Ex Post Facto Clause if it: 1. applies to events occurring before its enactment; and 2. if it disadvantages the individual affected by it. Weaver v Graham, 450 U.S. 24. 29 (1981).
This well established law shows that the Michigan Legislature enacted a law that targets juvenile offenders that benefited from the U.S. SUPREME COURT’S DECISION in Miller v Alabama unjustly. In August of 2016 after the Montgomery v Louisiana decision, a federal judge in Pennsylvania stated that juvenile offenders should not be made to suffer further delays because there are those whose rehabilitation is beyond question and those individuals must be returned to society immediately. ( see Songster v Beard, 201 F. Supp. 3rd 639. also at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Songster-v-Beard.pdf
MCL 769.25a places further delays on those that are ready to rejoin and contribute to society by denying them of the good time and or disciplinary credits they’ve earned.
Due to the mandatory minimum of 25 years called for by MCL 769.25a, if a juvenile offender does not have that minimum sentence already served, without the earned good time and or disciplinary credits they will remain incarcerated without a parole hearing well past their transformation from a child to an adult that demonstrate maturity. All prisoners that were arrested prior to the enactment of truth in sentencing earn good time and or disciplinary credits. However, the Michigan Legislature is denying those benefits to juvenile offenders that have earned good time and or disciplinary credits and no one else. Are juveniles being targeted unjustly? You decide.
Related articles from VOD, which has been closely covering JLWOP: