HUBBELL DUVALL PLLC has worked since 2008 toward justice for juveniles sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment through advocacy for its client, Cortez Davis-El. This year, Cortez was granted parole.
A Perfect Storm of Laws
Cortez entered the criminal justice system in February of 1994, and has been incarcerated ever since. As a result of harsh “tough-on-crime” laws, Michigan did not acknowledge the very real and measurable differences between adult and juvenile offenders in the prosecution of suspects, and in the sentencing of those convicted of crimes. Michigan’s refusal to acknowledge the differences between youth and adult offenders, it’s “felony murder” doctrine, it’s “automatic waiver” into the adult criminal process, and mandatory life sentences, created a “perfect storm” of laws that saw hundreds of juvenile offenders imprisoned for life.
Most of the incarcerated juvenile offenders are black males, and most come from economically ravaged parts of Michigan, including: Detroit and surrounding areas, Pontiac, Lansing, Benton Harbor, Flint, Saginaw, Port Huron, and Jackson. The vast majority of those incarcerated were between 14 and 17 at the time of their crimes. Some were even younger. None were prepared for the hard world that stands before those children facing lack of access to education, housing, services, capital, and employment.
Now, after Cortez’s 24-year incarceration, and nearly 11 years of advocacy by HUBBELL DUVALL PLLC in state and federal courts, we are pleased to announce that Cortez has been granted parole. Our advocacy is shifting now to securing a safe and conducive environment for Cortez to emerge into post-incarceration, and to truly give him the second change for which he is grateful.