Proposed Parole Changes Criticized From Different Sides

Jun 3, 2015

Credit MPRN

(MPRN-Lansing) Law enforcement groups and prisoner advocates alike are criticizing a bill meant to make it easier for some inmates to get out on parole. 

The goal of House Bill 4138 is to cut corrections spending by safely reducing Michigan’s prison population. But the criticism came from all sides at a committee hearing on Tuesday.

“It just completely undoes the whole concept of presumptive parole,”

said Barbara Levine with the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS). CAPPS has long pushed for “presumptive parole” – the concept behind the legislation. But Levine says the bill gives the parole board too much room to reject parole requests, even for inmates with a low risk of reoffending.

“What we don’t want is to have something pass that’s called ‘presumptive parole’ that doesn’t really do the job, and then everybody declares victory and goes home and says, ‘We did it!’ when, in fact, the fundamental problems haven’t been cured,”

she said. Law enforcement groups also oppose the bill for very different reasons. They say it could compromise public safety and drive up costs for local officials.

“I oppose the ‘presumptive parole’ bill in its current form because it would force the of release violent criminals,”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement.

“We simply cannot place our parole process on autopilot.”

Schuette pushed hard against similar legislation during lawmaker’s “lame duck” session late last year. Those bills failed to get to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. Snyder recently endorsed the concept of presumptive parole as part of his larger plan to overhaul Michigan’s criminal justice system.