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Prof. Kim Thomas Honored for Juvenile Justice Work

Prof. Kim Thomas Honored for Juvenile Justice Work

By Lori Atherton
April 2, 2013

Clinical Professor of Law and Juvenile Justice Clinic cofounder Kim Thomas is the recipient of a Justice for All Award from the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM) for her work on behalf of juvenile justice.

Prof. Thomas—along with her husband, Jonathan Sacks, deputy director of the Michigan State Appellate Defenders Office, and local attorneys Deborah LaBelle, Douglas R. Mullkoff, and Patricia Lynn Selby—was recognized for her efforts at developing a pro bono program to represent juvenile defendants following the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, which hold that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of homicide offenses are unconstitutional.

According to CDAM, approximately 360 juvenile lifer cases in Michigan have been identified that involve prisoners serving life without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles. Advocates, such as Prof. Thomas, are seeking to have the juveniles resentenced in their home counties. Through Prof. Thomas's pro bono program, more than 100 lawyers have been trained to represent the juvenile defendants at new hearings.

"The impact of these decisions in Michigan is significant," Prof. Thomas said, "and I am excited that so many attorneys have been willing to contribute to this important and necessary work to give hope to juveniles facing the rest of their lives in prison."

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