Legislation requiring Michigan’s Parole Board to provide substantial and compelling objective reasons in writing when the Department of Corrections’ guidelines are not followed is heading to the governor’s desk after being reported by a Senate panel Wednesday morning and passed by the full chamber in the afternoon, moving the state closer to addressing longer than usual incarceration rates.

HB 5377 passed the Senate by a 36-1 vote. It was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier in the day on a 3-0 vote, with Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton) abstaining and Sen. Tory Rocca (R-Sterling Heights) being absent and not voting.

In May the House by a 97-10 vote passed HB 5377, requiring Michigan’s Parole Board to provide substantial and compelling objectives in writing when departing from the Department of Corrections’ guidelines for sentencing. The bill requires those reasons to be objective and for updates the Corrections Code to define “substantial and compelling objective reasons” for why the Parole Board could go against the guidelines.

Bill sponsor Rep. Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Township) told the Senate committee HB 5377 would create an objective standard for weighing parole for inmates.

“There is no entitlement to parole. However, there are objective reasons,” Mr. Kesto said.

Under the bill the Parole Board could deny parole to someone who otherwise would have had a high probability of parole for various reasons including exhibiting a pattern of behavior while incarcerated showing they would be a serious risk to public safety, refusal to participate in programs ordered by the department, a psychological exam of the prisoner showing they would be a high risk to the public and other factors.

Prisoners serving life sentences would be not be eligible and the new guidelines would only apply to future prisoners.

“We have to be smart on crime and be soft on taxpayers. We have to have safe and secure rehabilitation,” Mr. Kesto said.

The Senate killed a piece of legislation during the 2015-16 term to address the state’s longer incarceration rates. The previous legislation was referred to as “presumptive parole” which would have required the Parole Board to parole anyone past their minimum release date where they have scored as having a high chance of success upon release. The Parole Board has been questioned why they sometimes keep inmates imprisoned until their maximum release date.

Original source: www.gongwer.com
Release date: September 5, 2018