Feb 11, 2022
A package of bills moving through the Michigan legislature would give the Michigan Parole Board the power to delay hearings for people convicted of serious crimes and save the victims from recurring trauma.
LANSING, Mich. — A package of bills moving through the Michigan legislature would give the Michigan Parole Board the power to delay hearings for people convicted of serious crimes and save the victims from recurring trauma.
The bills are sponsored by state Reps. Angela Witwer and Sarah Lightner and would change how parole hearings are handled.
Right now, Michigan law requires a yearly hearing, but the legislation gives the parole board the authority to delay a hearing by up to five years.
Supporters like state Sen. Adam Hollier say the current law unfairly impacts victims.
“Those victims don’t have to go back before the parole board and say hey this person did these terrible things to me or my loved one. Noting that they’re not going to get paroled because of the egregiousness of what they did. The way the law is they just have to keep going back and going back," said Hollier.
Now, victims have the responsibility to appear before the state parole board every six months to say why a convict should be kept behind bars.
“These cases would be very rare and, when the board chooses to utilize this provision if it became law, the board would have to vote on the case. The majority of the members would have to vote to extend it beyond a year, potentially up to five years. Then they would have to write a specific reason why the board is choosing not to see them every year," said Michigan Department of Corrections spokesperson, Chris Gautz.
Gautz says the board would also have to provide a report to the legislature on a yearly basis on how many times they decided to delay a hearing.
The proposed change is currently in committee and is likely to be voted on in a few weeks.