Senate approves evidence-based parole reform

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos on Wednesday supported Senate approval of legislation to establish parole standards and require the parole board to make objective decisions when considering releasing a prisoner on parole. The bill is now on its way to the governor’s desk.

“Objective parole continues the hard work of promoting evidence-based criminal justice reform, which is something that I have championed throughout my time in the Legislature,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Since about 90 percent of prisoners in our state will one day return home to our communities, it makes sense to make sure that they are prepared to succeed with clear and objective standards.

“Ensuring that individuals know the standards to which they will be held accountable only increases their chances for success upon their release and will better allow for their successful reintegration back into society.”

House Bill 5377 would establish an objective, evidence-based parole policy in Michigan. The bill would require that denial of parole for a prisoner who has a high probability of parole, as determined by the guidelines, must be for a substantial and compelling objective reason.

Some of the substantial and compelling reasons would include:
• Objective evidence of post-sentencing conduct or a pattern of negative behavior by the prisoner while incarcerated that suggests he would be a substantial risk to public safety;
• Failure of the prisoner to present a sufficient parole plan that addresses the risks and needs of that prisoner to be able to be a successful parolee; or
• The prisoner either refuses to participate in programming to reduce his risk or has not yet completed the programming and it is not available in the community.

The bill also would require an annual report to the Legislature detailing prisoner and parole numbers and reasons for parole denials.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.