Candidate wants sentences outlawed
Published 4:30 am Thursday, October 21, 2010
The case of Niles teen Dakotah Eliason has received national attention and been the subject of some controversy.
One of the main issues is Eliason, 15, was tried as an adult for the murder of his 69-year-old grandfather, Jesse Miles. The boy was found guilty in August.
On Monday, Judge Scott Schofield is scheduled to sentence Eliason to life in prison without the possibility of parole — a mandatory sentencing for the crime according to Michigan law.
The only way he will not receive that sentence is if Schofield agrees with the defense’s argument that a sentence to life without parole is “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.
After the sentencing Monday, Scott Elliott, who is running for state Senate in District 21, will hold a press conference to advocate for legislation that would outlaw sentencing juveniles to life without parole.
Eliason’s attorney Lanny Fisher will also address the press and the public, followed by remarks by family members of Eliason.
“Sentencing anyone, whether juvenile or adult, without the possibility of parole is a mistake,” Elliott said. “It doesn’t allow for the possibility of rehabilitation.”
He also said sentencing juveniles to life without parole is “economically ludicrous.”
“The bottom line is that it increases costs, money that could be spent on prevention and early childhood education,” Elliott said.
Michigan has the second-highest percentage of juveniles serving life without parole, according to Elliott.
When it was determined by the prosecutor’s office that Eliason would be tried as an adult in March, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Michael Sepic offered an explanation to the Star.
“It’s a variety of different factors that contribute to that,” Sepic said. “It’s certainly a decision that isn’t made lightly and isn’t made simply because it’s a terrible crime.”
In 2008, the Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation that would abolish sentencing juveniles to life without parole but it was not taken up by the Senate.