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Parole overhaul clears state House

Prison fence barbed wire
Kevin Rosseel
Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for prisoner rehabilitation

Michigan would release more inmates on parole under bills approved by the state House on Thursday.

The legislation would guarantee release for many prisoners who’ve served their minimum sentences and are deemed unlikely to re-offend. It does not apply to inmates currently behind bars.

The state spends $2 billion a year on corrections.

State Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, says for too long the state has spent too much of that money to house inmates who pose no threat to public safety.

“We put people in jail and we built prisons because we wanted to be tough on crime. Did it work?” he said.

“We’re spending billions of dollars to put people in prison when we could be spending that money on our kids, on our roads, or maybe even giving some of it back to the taxpayers.”

Thursday’s vote saw Republicans and Democrats both split on their support for the House Bill 4138. It received bipartisan support, as well as bipartisan opposition.

“We all understand and agree we spend an enormous amount of money on the corrections budget. However, any solution motivated by savings and not safety is a flawed experiment from the very beginning,” said state Rep. Vanessa Guerra, D-Bridgeport.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has long opposed the legislation. He released a statement on Thursday saying it “jeopardizes the safety of Michigan citizens.”

The bills now go to the state Senate.

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