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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sign New Petition Supporting Parole for Efrén Paredes, Jr.

The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee recently created a new online petition for people to sign which supports the parole release of Efren Paredes, Jr.

The web site that hosts the petition generates individual e-mails to be sent to the Chairman and other members of the Michigan Parole Board each time someone signs the petition. The message that is sent is available for viewing on the petition.

In the coming weeks and months prisoners like Efren who were sentenced to life without parole (LWOP) when they were juveniles may begin receiving parole and/or resentencing consideration as a result of a recent federal court ruling. There is also a pending appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court and pending legislation that could produce similar results.

Please sign the petition and circulate its web link widely via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. You are also encouraged to download the petition flyer and print it out to post it at churches, libraries, and on college campuses. The flyer can also be distributed at gatherings and events.

Links to the online petition and petition flyer appear below:

Petition shortcut link:

Petition flyer link:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Judge Bans Mandatory Life Without Parole Sentences for Michigan Juveniles

by Efren Paredes, Jr.

U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O'Meara issued a court order on Monday, August 12, 2013 stating that all Michigan prisoners who were sentenced to life without parole (LWOP) when they were juveniles are now parole eligible.

In January the judge ruled that the state's law, MCL 791.234(6)(a), which denies juveniles sentenced to LWOP the opportunity for parole, is unconstitutional.

Subsequent to the ruling Attorney General Bill Schuette argued on behalf of the State of Michigan that the judge's order only applies prospectively to a handful of prisoners.

Judge O'Meara made clear in his ruling today that the state is wrong to believe it "may enforce the statute, which the court has been ruled unconstitutional." He added, "When a state statute has been ruled unconstitutional, state actors have an obligation to desist from enforcing that statute."

The ruling was applied retroactively to each and every prisoner who was sentenced to LWOP as a juvenile who had exhausted their court appeals previous to the court's order.

While the ruling strikes down MCL 791.234(6(a) as being unconstitutional, the legislature must still revise the statute to bring it into compliance with the court's order and Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct 2455 (2012).

The ruling is a positive step in the right direction and puts the legislature on notice about the need for serious reforms to the state's sentencing laws governing juveniles sentenced pursuant to MCL 791.234(6)(a).

It is imperative that citizens continue signing the online petition dedicated to ending mandatory LWOP sentences for juveniles and circulating it widely until the legislation is passed.

Citizens must continue sending a strong message to legislators that it is unconscionable to condemn juveniles to death-by-incarceration.

Readers are encouraged to print the petition flyer below and distribute it to as many people possible, to educate people about this campaign, and to share it with people who can feature it on blogs, web sites, social media and hand it out anywhere there are public gatherings.

Petition Link:

Petition Flyer Link:

Friday, August 9, 2013

End Mandatory Life Without Parole Sentences for All Michigan Juvenile Offenders

Please sign this important new online petition aimed at ending mandatory life without parole (LWOP) sentences for all Michigan prisoners who were juveniles at the time their crimes were committed. This is a requirement made by a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

House Bills 4806-4809 extend this protection retroactively to prisoners whose court appeals were already exhausted at the time of the high court's decision providing equal and fair treatment to all affected.

Signing the petition sends electronic messages to your state representative, state senator, and the Governor, expressing support for passage of the bills. The petition will identity your respective legislators based on your zip code.

Please share the petition link with others widely via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, and invite others to do the same.

Included in the messages sent to state legislators will be a request for an amendment to the bills which allows judges to impose sentences that are a term of years rather than only LWOP and parolable life sentences.

To deny this discretion to judges is to handcuff them by preventing them from utilizing their professional discretion to impose individualized sentences. It also ignores the inherent dignity in young people and abandons the concept of redemption.

We need to generate as much support possible for passage of these bills. This is a powerful form of activism that can empower citizens to reject the continued human rights abuses committed by the criminal justice system against youthful offenders.

Please urge people to continue signing the petition until the bills are voted on which will likely be in the Fall and keep gathering petition signatures until the moment that the bills are voted on and passed. We want legislators to know it is unconscionable to condemn juveniles to sentences of death-by-incarceration.   

The petition link is:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Judge: Juveniles sentenced to life must get 'fair, meaningful' chance at parole

by Robert Snell
The Detroit News

January 30, 2013
Detroit — Inmates sentenced to life in prison for murder as juveniles are eligible for parole and must receive a "fair and meaningful" chance at leaving prison, a federal judge said Wednesday.

The order from U.S. District Judge John Corbett O'Meara comes six months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down mandatory no-parole sentences for juveniles.

The order offers an opportunity at freedom for several inmates who challenged the constitutionality of a state law prohibiting the Michigan Parole Board from considering parole for juvenile lifers. The state has more than 350 such prisoners.

"I think this is both the right legal and moral decision," said Deborah LaBelle, the inmates' lead counsel. "We are pretty elated to be able to tell all of the individuals serving a hopeless sentence that they now have an opportunity for parole."

O'Meara said the state law is unconstitutional for inmates who received mandatory life sentences for first-degree murder when they were under the age of 18.

"As a result, plaintiffs will be eligible and considered for parole," O'Meara wrote. "It remains to be determined how that process will work and what procedures should be in place to ensure that plaintiffs are fairly considered for parole."

Attorney General Bill Schuette is considering appeal options, spokeswoman Joy Yearout said.

"He will continue to fight for crime victims and their families, who should not be forced to relive these horrific crimes at parole hearings," Yearout said.

The judge's order trumps a ruling last fall by the state appeals court, which said retroactivity would not apply for most people already behind bars.

He told the state attorney general and lawyers for inmates to propose a way to hold parole hearings. Those next steps will be litigated for months.

"If there was ever a legal rule that should — as a matter of law and morality — be given retroactive effect, it is the rule announced in Miller," the judge said, referring to the Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama.

"To hold otherwise would allow the state to impose unconstitutional punishment on some persons but not others, an intolerable miscarriage of justice," he said.


Click here to view the court opinion

Click "play" below to listen to an audio version of Efren Paredes, Jr.'s response to the recent federal court opinion which held that Michigan prisoners who received life without parole sentences when they were juveniles are entitled to "fair and meaningful" parole opportunities.