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Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Releases Next Set of Standards

Comments invited through October 6, 2017

The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission met on April 18, 2017 at the MIDC office in Lansing, Michigan.  At that meeting, the Commission announced that the first four standards for indigent criminal defense services are pending a decision by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs now that the public comment period closed on March 9, 2017.  Those first four standards cover training and education of counsel, the initial client interview, use of investigation and experts, and counsel at first appearance and other critical stages. Read More


SADO's Juvenile Lifer Unit Secures Term of Years Sentences for Clients formerly Sentenced to Life Without Parole

Michigan's Juvenile Lifers--individuals sentenced to mandatory life without parole for offenses they committed as children age 17 years old or under--are entitled to resentencing following Montgomery v Louisiana, __ US __; (Docket No. 14-280, issued 1/25/16), and pursuant to the procedures set forth in MCL 769.25a. In July 2016, prosecutor offices around the state filed motions seeking the re-imposition of life without parole sentences for approximately 229 of Michigan's approximately 363 juvenile lifers. Resentencing hearings will take place over an expanded period of time. In these cases, the prosecution will continue to seek the re-imposition of a life sentence while defense counsel will seek the imposition of a term of years sentence, the minimum of which can be between 25 to 40 years and the maximum of which is 60 years, pursuant to MCL 769.25a. Read More


How Personal Data and Algorithms Send People to Prison

Detroit Today: Should we allow algorithms to sway the criminal justice system?

How much control do we give data and algorithms over our lives? Should they be able to determine how long an inmate stays behind bars? These questions were raised by a recent supreme court case in Wisconsin and addressed by Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson in a recent interview with Barbara Levine, associate director of CAPPS, and University of Michigan professor John Cheney-Lippold, author of We Are Data: Algorithms and The Making of Our Digital Selves. In the Wisconsin case, the court upheld the six-year sentence of an incarcerated man based on a third-party algorithm that computes a person’s likelihood of violence, recidivism, and pretrial risk. Studies later found the algorithm, COMPAS, to be racially biased. COMPAS is used by the MDOC in risk assessments for Michigan inmates. Read More


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This project was funded by the Byrne JAG grant #2010-DJ-BX-0003, awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and administered by the Michigan state Police (MSP). Points of view or opinions contained within this document do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the MSP or DOJ.