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.

Will earlier parole boost crime?

Capital News Service
LANSING – With debate about ‘presumptive parole’ in the Legislature, the question arises whether keeping convicts in prison longer will actually prevent them from committing another crime once they’re set free. A recent report from the Council of State Governments found almost no difference in the re-arrests rates of Michigan parolees, whether they’re released within six months of their earliest eligibility date or incarcerated longer. That was true regardless of the crime for which they were imprisoned. “There is no correlation in keeping people longer in prison and keeping the public safer,” said Barbara Levine, associate director of research and policy at the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending. “Most of those that committed a serious crime years ago present a lower risk to society, making keeping them in our prisons a waste of our money,” she said.