On May 30, 2018, HB 5377 passed the Michigan House by an overwhelming 97-10 vote. HB 5377 will establish an objective, evidence-based parole process for low-risk incarcerated people.

Currently, incarcerated people who are eligible for parole undergo a rigorous risk assessment by the parole board. By law, parole board members can only deny parole for “substantial and compelling” reasons when a person’s scores indicate they are a low-risk to public safety.  Unfortunately, the law did not define “substantial and compelling” reasons.

HB 5377, sponsored by Representative Klint Kesto (R – District 39), defines “substantial and compelling” reasons for parole denials. The bill creates an objective parole process while preserving the parole board’s ability to deny parole to any individual for objective safety concerns.

In support of the bill in the House Law and Justice Committee, John Cooper, our CAPPS policy director, wrote:

HB 5377 reduces the risk of inconsistent parole decisions for similarly-situated prisoners. It puts the focus of the parole release on whether the prisoner presents a credible risk to public safety if released, and it creates objective standards for making this determination. 

By increasing the transparency and predictability of the parole process, it increases prisoners’ incentives to invest in their own rehabilitation.

The bill was amended in Committee in response to concerns raised by law enforcement. The bill easily passed the full House without further amendments.

HB 5377 is now on its way to the Senate, where it is likely to be referred to the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Senator Rick Jones (R – District 24).