PLEASE CALL YOUR STATE SENATORS ASKING THEM TO VOTE FOR HB 4138.
There is a misinformation campaign against this bill. Read the statements from Governor Snyder and House Republican Speaker Cotter below and call on Tuesday, October 20 or Wednesday, October 21, if you have not already done so. Please circulate this information to your networks.
The bill (HB 4138) is currently in the Senate Government Operations Committee. We will keep you informed as votes are scheduled on the bill. Be sure to read CAPPS analysis of HB 4138 in the latest CAPPS UPDATE.
YOUR VOICE MATTERS!
Gov. Rick Snyder endorsed House Bill 4138, evidence-based parole reform sponsored by Rep. Kurt Heise (R – Plymouth Twp).
HB 4138 was reported 7-1 out of the House Criminal Justice Committee, and passed the full House with 67 votes, including majorities of the Republican and Democratic caucuses.
Statements made by Gov. Snyder and House Speaker Kevin Cotter in the below article from MLive directly refute many misleading statements about evidence-based parole reform recently made by Bill Schuette.
Senate Republican Leader Meekhof also criticized Schuette’s statements as going “too far” in comments to media this week.
Speaker Cotter released a video expressing support for evidence-based parole reform in the wake of a wide bipartisan House majority voting to support HB 4138 on October 1. Click here for video.
MLive: Snyder backs presumptive parole proposal as Schuette leads opposition campaign
LANSING, MI — Gov. Rick Snyder has long supported “smart justice” but came out specifically in favor of presumptive parole legislation this week, something Attorney General Bill Schuette has been leading the charge against.
“Michigan needs a smarter criminal justice system that doesn’t simply punish people who commit crimes, but frees up resources that can instead be used on effective efforts to reduce criminal activity and make our communities safer,” Snyder said in a statement.
The Michigan House recently passed HB 4138, which creates what’s been referred to as “presumptive parole” — essentially giving prisoners who have been assessed as not being a menace to society the presumption that they will automatically be eligible for parole consideration after serving their minimum sentences.
Right now Michigan prisoners serve an average of 127 percent of their minimum sentences, according to Barbara Levine, associate director for research and policy at the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending, which has been advocating for the change.
Snyder said that state law already directs the parole board to parole low-risk offenders unless there is a “substantial and compelling reason” not to, but doesn’t clearly define those reasons. The bill creates consistency, he said.
“Every low-risk offender sentenced to prison would serve at least the minimum sentence handed down by the judge and can serve up to their maximum sentence if they continue to pose a threat to society. No prisoner would be guaranteed parole and no parole decision would be automatic,” Snyder said. “Prosecutors and victims will also maintain their ability to appeal a parole decision that they disagree with.”
This issue is another wedge between Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has vehemently opposed the legislation.
He distributed a letter to representatives on the eve of their vote saying it would put parole on auto-pilot. On WKAR’s “Off The Record” last week, Schuette alleged shades of anti-police sentiment and elitism in the pending legislation. Most recently he’s teamed up with his 2010 general election opponent, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, to oppose the legislation.
But Snyder pointed to fiscal benefits that would come from enacting the legislation.
“The long-term impact this change would be housing roughly 3,600 fewer low-risk felons in our prisons 10 years from now, allowing for $80 million in savings that can be reinvested in preventing crime, rather than continuing to keep low-risk offenders behind bars after they have served their minimum sentence,” Snyder said.
House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, supports the legislation.
“Presumptive parole is a responsible way to reform our broken prison system and protect the rights and safety of Michigan residents. Contrary to many reports, the proposed bill simply requires parole boards to give a compelling reason to deny parole when prisoners with a high probability of success have completed their minimum sentence,” Cotter said.
The bill is currently in the Senate Government Operations Committee, chaired by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof.