Proos: Prisoner trophies wrong

LANSING – State Sen. John Proos co-sponsored legislation to ban prisoners from keeping “trophy” items in their cell. Trophy items are usually photographs, articles of clothing or other items from their criminal act.

“Allowing prisoners to have these keepsakes of their crimes in their cells is disgusting and a slap in the face to the victims,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I co-sponsored this measure to ensure that Michigan’s corrections system remains focused on adjusting behavior and punishing criminal offenses against communities across the state. Letting a criminal display trophies of his crimes is unacceptable and goes against our Southwest Michigan values.”

Senate Bill 645 would prohibit prisoners from receiving or possessing any item that belonged to the criminal’s victim or any photograph, drawing or other visual image representing his victim.

The legislation was introduced at the request of a Michigan municipal police department after a prisoner, convicted of a sexual offense, was discovered by the victim’s family to have a picture of his victim in his prison cell. When the family asked that the photograph be removed, prison officials told them there was nothing they could do.

“Michigan has been a leader in the area of crime victim’s rights,” Proos said. “This case is an example of oversight in the law that must be fixed. No victim or victim’s family should be subjected to this type of inappropriate behavior.”

The bill does allow for an exemption in a case where the victim is an immediate family member and the prisoner has permission of that family member. SB 645 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.