Law enforcement opposes proposed early parole program

They didn't do their time yet, but state lawmakers are working on a plan to let criminals out of prison early.

It would save a lot of money, but metro Detroit's top law enforcement officials fear the savings aren't worth the cost to public safety.

"I don't think they're intentionally putting money over safety, but I think that's the outcome," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

Showing their strong opposition to "presumptive parole" legislation, sheriffs and prosecutors from Oakland, Macomb, Wayne and Genesee counties along with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, gathered together Monday.

"You don't go to prison for smoking a joint, or ripping off a DVD," Schuette said. "It doesn't work that way. This is a risky scheme,"

Bill 4138, recently passed in the state House, would give prisoners consideration for parole after serving their minimum sentences. Some opposing the bill say it would make it much too easy for prisoners to be released.

"The United States Supreme Court held that parole is not a right," Bouchard said. "It is something the state looks at and makes a decision. They don't have a right to be paroled."

They also say when prisoners are paroled from state custody, the cost of parole violations, officers and corrections programs falls onto other communities.

"If that's the point of this, to save money, don't shift the cost any place else," Bouchard said. "You have to absorb the new system."

"I think we need to look at privatizing and contracting out services," Schuette said. "Not letting dangerous criminals out early."

While those opposing bill 4138 say they would feel more vulnerable, one man who was pistol-whipped and beaten says he would not.

"Six years ago, two weeks after my high school graduation, I was pistol whipped, robbed, carjacked," Brady Middleton said. "I was marched to the woods at gunpoint, ordered on my knees with a gun to the back of my head and told I was going to be killed.

"Over the last six years I got over the fear of the event and befriended one of my attackers and befriended him on a personal level."

Middleton, of Grand Rapids, says one of his attackers is still behind bars set to be released in seven years.

Middleton says he believes this pending bill would give more prisoners who scored as low-risk for reoffending, the chance to be paroled sooner. He adds that under the bill, the parole board would still have the final say.

"If he takes the proper steps in prison to have the opportunity to live a full and healthy life," he said. "As a victim of violent crime, that is the best restitution I can get."