Sheriff questions the logic behind presumptive parole.

October 30, 2015

cole_kim_sheriffLetter to the editor by Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole.

Some facts about those sentenced to prison:

  • Only 10% of those convicted of a felony offense actually are sentenced to prison.
  • 69% are paroled within the first 6 months of their early release date (ERD)
  • 82% are paroled with the first year of their ERD.
  • 23% re-offend within one year of parole (in other words, victimize again).

Michigan has an effective parole board in place and for those who “We the People” sent to Lansing to ensure our safety, through legislation, to actually think “presumptive parole” will make Michigan communities safer is shocking.  To save money at the risk of public safety is sad.  Having children of my own, I’m troubled with the thought of felons, convicted of violent crimes, being released to the streets for the sake of saving money.

For those unfamiliar with “presumptive parole”, let me give you the “Readers Digest” version; it basically means a Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) inmate (felon) shall be released upon his/her ERD if they pose an “average risk” to society, effectively taking the legs out from under the parole boards and turning them into a “shall parole” board.  

Please understand, it’s not necessarily what crime the criminal actually committed but rather what he/she pled to.  For example, a person commits a criminal sexual conduct first degree (rape), pleas to CSC third degree and is sentenced to the MDOC for a term of 2-10 years would serve 2 years if they are a “model” prisoner and only serve an “average risk” to society.  You see, in court victims hear “10 years” while the convicted hears “2 years” and, under “presumptive parole”, would serve the 2 years only.     

What’s not talked about in this bill is what crimes are considered for  “presumptive parole”: second degree murder, manslaughter, CSC 1, 2, and 3, armed  and unarmed robbery, carjacking, elder abuse, child abuse 1, assault  with intent, assault while armed, home invasion first and second, prisoner hostage, child enticement, kidnapping, and child sexually abusive activity, to name a few.

I’m not opposed to paroling individuals who are incarcerated; if they have served their time, been vetted through the parole board, can (or at least are willing to) contribute to society, and the victim’s voice is heard.  I’m all for a person receiving a second chance.  But as Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette pointed out, let’s not have “cruise control parole.”  

The content of letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Media Group 31, LLC and its affiliates: Mason County Press, Manistee County Press, Oceana County Press.