The Michigan Parole Board is releasing inmates at a faster pace than any time in the last two decades to save the state money. Inmates are being released before serving their maximum sentence. However, prosecutors are appealing the decisions of the parole boards some people locked up instead of in the community.
Macomb and Oakland County prosecutor’s offices have created Parole Appeals units to handle the appeals. Oakland County Prosecutor, Jessica Cooper, said these appeals are very hard cases to proceed with and very time-consuming. Often circuit court judges will side with the parole board decisions.
Department of Corrections officials say prosecutors exaggerate the dangers of early releases for easy political points. However, Macomb County prosecutor, Eric Smith, says “When you release these career criminals back onto the street, they pick up right where they left off.”
Both Cooper and Smith say that the parole board often releases inmates with long rap sheets and a propensity to break the law again. “The citizens are left to clean up the mess,” Smith said.
Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan says that the parole board would not approve a dangerous inmate for release if they thought they would be a danger to society. “This is a very tremendous responsibility, and they don’t take it lightly. They live in our communities, too.”
Of the 13,000 inmates granted parole last year, less than 30 cases have been appealed. However Marlan expects the number to double this year.