CAPPS research  |  September 2006

The findings in this analysis are still relevant to today’s discussion of parolable lifers. From the report:

“The historical record makes it indisputably clear that a life sentence in Michigan did not always mean “no release.” On the contrary, a parolable lifer’s chances of being released from prison have dropped dramatically since many people currently incarcerated received their life sentences.

The decline began in the mid-1980s when rapid prison growth overwhelmed the “old” parole board and lifers were placed on the back burner. The current parole board has affirmatively decided not to release most of those lifers who, under Michigan’s Lifer Law, became eligible for parole after serving 10 years. It has adopted the view that “life means life. . . (and since then) people sentenced in the 1970s and 1980s, who could reasonably have expected parole in the late 1980s and the 1990s, have seen their chances for release plummet. . . “

Read>> When life did not mean life