The report, Five Years After: An Analysis of the Michigan Parole Board since 1992, was published in 1997 by the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) to document how the 1992 overhaul of the Parole Board and its parole review process increased the time prisoners were kept behind bars during that five-year period.
Ken McGinnis, then the MDOC director, wrote: “Among the most important differences since the overhaul is a Parole Board that is much less willing to release criminals who complete their minimum sentences — and much less willing to release criminals at all, forcing many to serve their maximum sentences.” By 1996, Michigan prisoners were serving an average of nearly 10 percent longer than the minimum sentences that were imposed by the courts.
Charts and graphs in the report show the changes in the parole process after 1992 led to:
- A dramatic reduction in parole grant rates, especially for those serving for assaultive and sex offenses.
- A dramatic increase in the number of prisoners serving well past their first parole eligibility dates.
- Significantly longer punishment for parole violations.
- A significant increase in the number of prisoners released only after they reached their maximum sentences.
While parole grant rates began increasing during the Granholm administration, the legacy of the post-1992 “throw away the key” policies remain, as our prisoner population gets older and sicker.
Largely as a result of our outdated parole policies, Michigan has the longest average prison length of stay of any of the 35 states studied by the Pew Center on the States in 2009. Our exceptionally long prison stays are the key driver of the prisoner population and thus, our $2 annual corrections bill. Despite the claims that these measures were necessary to protect the public, all the state and national research shows there is no connection between simply keeping people locked up longer and increasing public safety.