Edward Sanders and baby, before he was sentenced to life for an offense that happened at 17; he was not the shooter.

Edward with daughter Shay years later; he is now 53, a college grad, and assists other prisoners with legal appeals. He and Michigan's other juvenile lifers are hoping for the success of the ACLU lawsuit.

(Ed. note: In November, 2010, the Michigan ACLU filed a lawsuit, Hill et. al. v. Granholm, on behalf of nine of Michigan’s more than 350 “juvenile lifers,” who were sentenced to life without parole before their 18th birthdays.  

The lawsuit charges that a Michigan sentencing scheme that denies the now-adult plaintiffs an opportunity for parole and a fair hearing to demonstrate their growth, maturity and rehabilitation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and violates their constitutional rights,” said the ACLU.

The ACLU’s complete release and links to the lawsuit and the Second Chance website which supports an end to the policy of sentencing juveniles to die in prison, are at http://voiceofdetroit.net/?p=2669. 

A review of federal court filings shows that the defendants, now Gov. Rick Snyder, Richard McKeon, Interim Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections,  and Barbara Sampson, chair of the Michigan Parole Board, filed a “motion to dismiss, or alternatively a motion for summary judgment” on Feb. 28. The motion primarily raises legal technicalities regarding time limits. 

A  motion hearing has been set for April 21 at 2:15 p.m. before U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara, in the federal building on W. Lafayette.) 

Dante D. Collingham

Article below is by Dante. D. Cottingham #259241, Voice of Juvenile Defendants 

As most of you already know, I’ve been in Prison for nearly 16 years now. I was incarcerated when I was a teenager and next month, February 20th, I’ll be 33 yrs old. I literally was forced to grow from a child to an adult in prison, a process that was long, cold and difficult, but yet a process that taught me a couple very important things.

Some of the most powerful things that I read in the sentences that detail my history is the fact that a child has absolutely NO place in an adult prison, I see that a child has absolutely NO place within an adult court room, I see the fact Judges and Lawyers, Parents and Politicians were/are smart enough to do better for the most vulnerable sector of our society. Smart enough to adjudicate its children in a more responsible way that is directly connected to the spirit of rehabilitation that values a child’s potential, and that respects cutting edge science. World history is saturated with stories where societies’ sophistication was far more advanced than societies’ Laws and Policies, that is, until a group of people, like Dr. Martin Luther King and the SNCC, adopted an issue and proactively pursued progressive transformations.

Davontae Sanford of Detroit was 14 when he was convicted of four murders to which a professional hit man has confessed, but Prosecutor Kym Worthy will not withdraw charges against him

Well today, in our era, that issue is a Juvenile Justice Issue. It’s time for the responsible adults of our era to prevent our children being waived into the adult system and being discarded into adult prisons. There are thousands upon thousands of adolescents in adult court rooms and prisons all across the U.S. but it can be stopped with your help, by adopting this issue we can take children from the grips of adult prisons, and place them on the path that leads to their maximal development.

I implore you to go to the Volunteer page and see how you can help.
Thank you for your time and attention and I look forward to working with you.

Dante. D. Cottingham #259241

[In one of my most significant dreams, I shed my human Characteristics, I take the form of a light, a bright mobile soaring light, that is, I take the form of my soul…unadulterated.
I am hovering in what must be a part of space, for the darkness is absolute, and I am instinctively and patiently waiting, for what? I am unsure. Then instantly lights resembling my own start to appear, thousands and thousands at first but by the time they stop coming there is no question that hundreds of millions of lights are before me, hundreds of millions of souls are before me as if we are in an infinite stadium in the sky, enclosed by four walls of darkness, it looks as if I am on a podium in front of millions of stars.

Jennifer Pruitt was a 16-yr.-old runaway when an older woman companion killed a man.

……We are in grave danger of Losing the hearts and minds and souls of our sons and daughters, to the maleficent appendages of our societies. There exists in countries world-wide, from the poorest to the richest, governmental policies and societal influences that are not conducive to our children’s’ maximal development.

Their eagerness to hear me speak to them is unmistakable! It becomes beautifully apparent that I am about to articulate my soul’s essence to the souls of the world’s adult population. So through the utilisation of thought I speak to them, I speak to them about our most precious possessions, our world’s most significant and vital resource, I speak to them about the only vehicle that can be used to navigate the course which leads to world peace, I speak to them about our children, I say to them……..]

Nathaniel Abraham tried in adult court at 11, was sentenced as a juvenile but subjected to media persecution when released, which deprived him of a chance at a career, home, and education; he is now back in prison.

For example……currently in the United States there are two systems for processing Individuals who commit crimes: The Criminal Justice system for adults and the Juvenile Justice System for children. Not long ago these systems differed significantly in virtually all respects, including their principles, procedures and dispositions. While punishment for adults was premised on retribution and deterrence, children were generally subject to diversion or short term legal restraint which in theory emphasised rehabilitation.

However between the 1960’s and present day, the Juvenile system’s philosophy and structure has come to closely imitate the Adult system. Legislatures have narrowed Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, nudged what is left of that Jurisdiction towards a punishment orientation that often downplays treatment and Indeed imposes adult criminal procedures and determinate sentences. Children are being transferred to adult systems far too early and far too often, something that must be reserved for the truly unnameable to treatment, which is a very narrow category for people.

For children are less responsible for their actions because of cognitive and volitional developmental deficiencies and thus should receive special treatment. I mean, the moral and decision making capacities of children between seven and eighteen are inferior, and this inferiority should, must be recognised through treatment in a separate system. Children as a class are not psychologically developed in legally relevant ways, and since it is worldly and humanly possible to reconstruct these governmental policies that advocate discarding its children into garbage receptacle called adult prisons, we must dutifully make that our goal.

Damion Todd of Detroit, 16 when sent to prison

[The light that is my soul glides from before them, I glide amongst them for I desire to see how it feels to be so close to so many souls, but more importantly I want all these souls’ to feel the intensity of my light, my energy. When I am intimately amongst them I acknowledge that there are no skin colours, no religions, no cultures, no social classes to separate us. There’s a deep natural feeling of unification within the energy that connects every soul in attendance. I continue……..]

……….. Since it is humanly, worldly possible to eradicate the feeling of hunger from within the belly of every starving child, to render the famine obsolete, we must dutifully make this our goal, Since it is humanly, worldly possible to eradicate the Juvenile delinquency problem all over the world by focusing on the problem, making it a high priority and relentlessly pursuing the answers, we must dutifully make this our goal.
Since it is humanly, worldly possible to utilise pro-action in each and every one of our communities in the form of being mentors, sports coaches and referees, fighting against the detrimental laws and policies, donating to reputable and effective organisations, we must dutifully make that our goal.

Henry Hill of Saginaw, sentenced at 16

[I soar through the millions of souls until I am hovering directly in the middle of them all, their attention following me intently, then i say with earnest conviction……]

Our every goal is possible to achieve only if we recognise, accept and embrace our natural occupations as Ambassadors, as Diplomatic Officers with the highest rank appointed and accredited as representatives of every child on the face of our earth, Advocating the proliferation of world-wide systems being implemented in Countries everywhere that are designed to ensure our kids reach their maximal development, for that is the only way that future generations have a chance to experience world peace.

 I was a Juvenile defendant, as a teenager I received a Life sentence, and to date, I have been Incarcerated fourteen years and five months. However hindsight informs me that under the proper circumstances, with the proper system my mind could have been fundamentally led away from providing the United States with the Opportunity to exploit my cognitive and volitional developmental tendencies, my childlike disposition. So I am intimately positive, despite the debate,that virtually all children will respond most effectively to rehabilitative efforts as opposed to retributive. 

Bobby Hines of Detroit, sentenced at 15

[As you were reading this article your physical body was seated stationary in front of your computer, but your soul was with me soaring around that infinite stadium. Goodbye until the next time I summon your Soul!…]

 I thank you for your time and attention…..
Dant’e Cottingham.
Posted Friday, March 4th 2011 at 9:27AM by: Darcy Delaproser
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  2. Here at Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents we do our absolute best to ensure that the voices of incarcerated youth and their families get allocated a responsible reform to America’s Juvenile Justice.
    Our Truth about youth Campaign seeks to hear from youth that have been prosecuted upto the age of 18yrs as an adult, as well as their family and friends, to collect their stories in order to understand their experiences, perspectives and recomendations for change in the Adult criminal Justice System.
    Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents will use this information to identify patterns and trends that are worthy of further research that are specific to harmful effects on adolescents in the adult criminal justice system.
    In addition, we seek to use your voices to communicate to policy makers and the public the real life impact that the Adult Criminal Justice System has on youth.

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