(MPRN-Pontiac) The state Senate could vote as early as this week on legislation to overhaul Michigan’s parole system.
Under the bill, some inmates considered unlikely to commit new crimes would have a better chance to win parole when they first become eligible. House Bill 4138 cleared the state House earlier this month with bipartisan support.
But opposition has also been bipartisan. On Monday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette joined Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wichersham, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, and officials from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and the Genessee County Prosecutor’s Office to push back against the bill.
“We oppose this autopilot parole, this cruise control parole that would release dangerous criminals early in our communities and jeopardizes the safety of the citizens of the state of Michigan,”
said Schuette. Supporters of the legislation have criticized Schuette on this talking point. They cite language in the bill that says inmates would have to serve their minimum sentences before they could be released on parole. And they say it guarantees only inmates with the lowest risk of reoffending will be released.
Still, opponents assert the bill would compromise public safety. And they say lawmakers are ignoring concerns from law enforcement.
“I would think once policy is written that doesn’t take into your input, you’re being ignored,”
said Bouchard. Some supporters of the bill spoke with reporters outside Monday’s press conference at the Oakland County Sheriff’s office. Brady Middleton of Grand Rapids was the victim of a vicious assault. He’s become an advocate for the bill – and says he’d like to see his three attackers released on parole if they’re rehabilitated.
“The greatest form of restitution I can receive is the fact and the knowledge knowing that they will not harm someone else like they harmed me,” said Middleton. “And the best way to do that is for them to live productive and healthy lives.”
Gov. Rick Snyder has called on lawmakers to pass the parole changes. It’s part of his sweeping plan to overhaul Michigan’s criminal justice system. The debate also comes as a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators are pushing federal legislation to shorten prison sentences and reduce the nation’s prison population.