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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Jennifer J. Wareham


The United States Supreme Court abolished mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of homicide offenses in Miller v. Alabama (2012). Four years later, Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016) mandated that Miller’s decision be applied retroactively, requiring states to resentence their populations of offenders serving life without parole (LWOP) for crimes committed as juveniles. In Michigan, state statute required county prosecutors to file resentencing decisions stating whether they would seek a term-of-years sentence or a continued LWOP sentence for offenders in their jurisdiction. The current study offers a descriptive profile of individuals sentenced as juveniles to LWOP (n = 189) and analyzes whether factors informed by the principles laid out in Miller predicted prosecutors’ filing decisions. Logistic regression analyses identified few, if any, distinguishing characteristics separating individuals for whom the prosecutor sought a continued LWOP sentence and those for whom the prosecutor sought a term-of-years sentence. Policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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