Is Presumptive Parole a Good Idea for Michigan?

Is Presumptive Parole a Good Idea for Michigan?
Presumptive parole has been introduced into Michigan legislation. The reason why is a logical decision for some. Those on the other side of the fence think that it will have serious consequences. Let’s take a closer look at both sides of the issue.

The Underlying Reason

Political commentator, Jack Lessenberry, spotlighted the growing prison population in Michigan. As reported by Michigan Public Radio, Lessenberry stated that in 1982, there were 13,000 state prisoners. Now, the population in Michigan’s prisons has swelled to 43,000 now.

Presumptive Parole Summarized

According to the Detroit Free Press, presumptive parole is summarized as,

“Prisoners who have served their minimum sentences and who score well on behavior and type of crime criteria could be approved for parole faster.”

If presumptive parole is passed, the Parole Board will release well-behaving and nonviolent criminals after the complete their minimum sentence. The board will have ability not to release a prisoner if they have verifiable evidence the prisoner should not be released.

Back in May, I wrote the article, Governor Snyder Calls for Smart Justice by Sending Fewer to Prison. In that article, I shared that one-fifth to one-quarter of Michigan’s general fund budget is designated for the Michigan Department of Corrections. That comes out to 2 billion dollars.

Governor Snyder is pushing to reduce that budget. In the article mentioned above, it outlines what Snyder called his “smart justice” plan that would not only help ex-offenders re-enter into society, but also send fewer people to prison in the first place.

Now Snyder is trying to pass presumptive parole. The bill has already cleared in the Michigan House of Representatives. However, The Detroit News reported that some Detroit area police and the state attorney general, Bill Schuette, oppose the bill.

What Supporters Have to Say

The Detroit Free Press reported that supporters believe this new “smart justice” will reduce the inmate population by 3,000 beds over the next ten year. This will save the State of Michigan $80 million a year in incarceration costs by year 10.

One supporter, Rep. Kurt Heise, a republican from Plymouth Township, had this to say according to the Detroit Free Press,

“Michigan leads the country in incarcerations. We are spending billions to put people in prison when we could be spending that on our kids and our roads. Michigan has become a national penal colony for thousands of people.”

In an article by Jack Lessenberry published by Michigan Radio, it was reported that these nonviolent and well-behaving inmates are elderly cons in their 80s and others “whose chances of reoffending are close to zero.”

What Critics Have to Say

In an article by The Detroit News, the bill is “ill-conceived” and will have serious consequences on public safety. One critic, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, said that “Legislature is shifting correction costs onto local government and putting our communities at risk.”

The Problem

The Detroit News reported that one of the reported supporters, Barbara Levine, the associate director for policy and research at the nonprofit Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Spending, said that the problem is that the Parole Board “has subjectively held up paroles of hundreds of inmates whose scores should have permitted them to be released.”

Your Turn

What do you think about presumptive parole? Do you think that inmates should be paroled once they’ve served their minimum sentence? Is it a great way to save Michigan tax payers money? Or will it be responsible for more crime on our streets? Lend your voice and opinion to the comment section below.