Re-Entry for the Juvenile Lifer Population

A report published by The Sentencing Project found that most juvenile lifers grew up in adverse circumstances such as extreme poverty and violent environments where many experienced child abuse.

As a result of the Supreme Court decision Montgomery v Louisiana, __ US __; (Docket No. 14-280, issued 1/25/16), and pursuant to the procedures set forth in MCL 769.25a, approximately 365 Michigan juvenile lifers are entitled to re-sentencing. Under MCL 769.25a, if the individual is sentenced to a term of years, the minimum sentence will be anywhere from 25 to 40 years and the maximum will be 60 years. The majority of these individuals have already served over 20 years in prison, which would make them immediately eligible for parole. Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office (SADO) currently represents approximately 200 of those individuals. Read more about the status of juvenile lifer resentencings in Michigan.

Challenges for reentering individuals

Upon release, all formerly incarcerated persons will face almost insurmountable challenges when reintegrating back into society. They often struggle with finding safe and affordable housing, dealing with physical and mental health issues, and repairing broken and/or strained bonds with family and friends. Additionally, securing steady employment is a huge barrier in successful reintegration.

It is expected that juvenile lifers will face even greater challenges since they were imprisoned at such a young age. In particular, they are at a disadvantage in lacking social skills and experiences relating to growth, decision-making, and navigating personal relationships.  They entered prison as children and many may leave prison as Senior Citizens.

SADO’s Project Re-entry

SADO’s Project Re-Entry is a volunteer-based initiative to help assist clients prepare for parole and re-entry back into society. The goal of SADO’s Project Re-entry is to work with clients to help create a re-entry plan that addresses the unique challenges and needs of each person. This is accomplished by partnering with re-entry service providers and community organizations to coordinate basic living needs, mentorship, and workshops for the families. Learn more about the background of this project.

Call to engagement

Many juvenile lifers will be coming back to communities across the state. It’s crucial to create a strong supportive network for them in each community. SADO’s Project Re-entry needs your engagement. There are three ways in which you can get involved.

JOIN US. Please spread the word about this project and sign up to volunteer. You will receive information about volunteer opportunities, updates on our progress, and client success stories!

MENTORSHIP. Become a mentor! You can help our clients accomplish their goals of job preparation, time management, dealing with adversity, strengthening familial relationship, and giving back to community. Anyone can be a mentor so don’t worry if you’ve never mentored anyone before. We will do our best to pair the right people and provide training beforehand.

COMMUNITY MEETINGS. Host a community meeting about the issues that we’ve discussed today so that we can call for more volunteers.

Fill out this google form if you’d like to get involved:


State Appellate Defender Office (SADO)
Project Reentry: Danielle Motley and Motoki Taniguchi
645 Griswold, Suite 3300, Penobscot Building, Detroit, MI 48226
Email:  |  Phone number: 313.256.98336.9833