Daily Briefs . . .

DRC to present film and panel discussion about a juvenile lifer

The Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) will present a film screening and panel discussion of “15 to Life:  Kenneth’s Story,” on Wednesday, October 14, 7 p.m., at the Michigan Theatre. Tickets are $15; $10 for students.

This documentary presents the story of Kenneth Young, who was tried as an adult at 14 years of age and received four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.  He accompanied his mother’s 24-year old drug dealer who planned and committed four armed robberies.

In the U.S. there are more than 2,500 juveniles serving mandatory life sentences, including over 350 in Michigan.  Michigan is one of five states where youth are frequently sentenced to life without parole. The United States is the only country in the world (except Sudan) that routinely condemns children to die in prison, which is what a life without parole is for juveniles.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional regardless of the severity of the crime committed. The lower courts were left to decide whether this ruling should be applied retroactively to allow juveniles with mandatory life sentences to be re-sentenced. This legal issue is still being litigated, and thus far no consensus has been reached.

The Dispute Resolution Center is shining a light on this issue and how alternative forms of conflict resolution may be able to combat the pitfalls of the school to prison pipeline.

After the film, Belinda Dulin, DRC executive director, will moderate a panel of experts on the legal and social issues surrounding mandatory life sentences for juveniles. Speakers include:  Judge Timothy Connors, Peacemaking Court; Deb LaBelle, an attorney advocate; Brian Sellers, an EMU criminologist specializing in juveniles in the criminal justice system; and Calvin Evans, life intervention specialist.
What happens over the next few years will determine whether the United States continues down the road of retribution or returns to the ideal of rehabilitation, on which the juvenile
justice system was founded.


Legal experts to explore immigration detention of children

Immigration legal experts will explore the protections governing the treatment of immigrant children detained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the program, “Family Detention at a Crossroads: Will the U.S. Government Persist or Desist?” hosted by the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration on Sept. 16 at UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles, Calif.

Panelists will discuss the California federal court ruling in Flores v. Lynch, which ruled that a 1997 court-ordered settlement governing the treatment of detained unaccompanied immigrant children also applies to those children who are held and accompanied by a parent.

In addition, the panel will discuss the findings of the ABA report, “Family Immigration Detention: Why the Past Cannot Be Prologue,” which focuses on the federal government’s expansion of family immigration detention in response to the 2014 influx of Central American mothers with young children to the southwestern U.S. border.