Parole-eligible inmates who have kept their nose clean and completed a training program behind bars would have an easier time clearing the state’s parole board under legislation that flew through the House today, 97-10.

In sessions past, Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE and the Prosecutors Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) have killed in the Senate what was called “presumptive parole.” (See “Presumptive Parole Blows Up In Senate GOP Caucus,” 10/15/15).

But Rep. Klint KESTO’s Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5377 has PAAM neutral on the bill, due to a growing number of conditions parole-eligible inmates need to meet before they can be fast-tracked through the parole board.

“There is a public safety layer of protection in this bill,” said Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. HILSON.

In the House-passed bill from 2015, the parole board had to release a prisoner who had served his or her minimum sentence, didn’t cause problems in prison, has no other pending felony charge and no evidence that the prisoner would be a high risk to public safety if released.

Kesto’s bill adds a few other conditions – that the prisoner participate in prison-ordered programming, he or she didn’t threaten harm to anyone if released, the prisoner have a post-prison plan and his or her recent psychological exam checks out, among other changes.

Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5377 also allows the Parole Board to delay release for up to a year, giving the prisoner time to complete a required program or evaluation. A “substantial objective reason” must be found to not allow a prisoners’ supervised release.

“Smart on crime, soft on taxpayers,” Kesto said. “We have to look at this from a standpoint that people who are incarcerated — almost all of whom are coming back into society — have taken a self-interest in themselves and their rehabilitation.”

The House member’s legislation received the support of the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS), the Hope Network, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan and the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ).

The bill did receive no votes from a smattering of conservative Republicans and some Democrats who expressed concerns about the concept of letting more inmates out of prison.

Rep. Vanessa GUERRA (D-Saginaw) had a problem with letting sexual offenders take advantage of this program, particularly after the House recently passed 27 bills cracking down on sexual assailants (See “Gov. States Support As House Passes Sex Assault Reform Package,” 5/24/18).

“If you’re going to fight for the rights of survivors, you should protect them and that means not releasing assailants when it’s not their time, yet,” Guerra said.

Others who cast no votes include: Reps. Sue ALLOR (R-Wolverine), Tom BARRETT (R-Potterville), John CHIRKUN (D-Roseville), Tim GREIMEL (D-Auburn Hills), Pamela HORNBERGER (R-Chesterfield Twp.), Aaron MILLER (R-Sturgis), John REILLY (R-Oakland), Jim RUNESTAD (R-White Lake) and Lana THEIS (R-Brighton).

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Release date: May 31, 2018