Inmates sentenced to life in prison as juveniles get chance at parole

Capital News Service
LANSING – A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that juveniles sentenced to life in prison should be guaranteed a shot at parole came three months too late for one Michigan man. Stephen Osterhout of Gaylord saw no end to his lifelong imprisonment, according to longtime friend Linda Day. He took his life behind bars this past October. The Jan. 26 court ruling means that about 350 inmates in Michigan serving life sentences without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles could get a chance at parole.

Advocates say state needs more discretion with youth offenders

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan’s tough approach to youth crime is under scrutiny. It’s the result of a bigger problem, says Kathleen Bailey, a professor and director of the School of Criminal Justice at Grand Valley State University. The problem boils down to “get tough” policies Michigan and many other states passed in the 1980s and 1990s on juvenile crime, she said. Those laws created policies like “adult time for adult crime,” which encouraged charging youth as adults ¬– often with stricter sentencing and more jail time – in the wake of what many people feared was a massive juvenile crime wave. “What happened is you got these unforgiving sentences and policies against youth offenders that were kind of built by a lie – the Armageddon never came,” Bailey said.

Bill would require parental OK for juvenile informants in criminal investigations

Capital News Service
LANSING – Law enforcement agencies would need parental or guardian approval to use juvenile informants in criminal investigations under a new legislative proposal. The bill by Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, would prohibit police agencies from using under-18 informants without such permission. It also would give parents and guardians the right to a court order to stop a violation. Juveniles are most often used as confidential informants after they’ve been arrested on drug charges and asked to help police in exchange for having charges dropped, Irwin said. “This is a real problem,” he said.