Law Aims To Make Parole Decisions More Fair

Sep 13, 2018

A new state law that went into effect on Wednesday aims to take the bias out of decisions on whether or not a prisoner should be paroled.


Governor Snyder signed the bill into law on Wednesday that will put clearer guidelines into place on whether or not to allow someone in prison to return to society.

According to the Governor’s office, the bill includes “a limited list of 11 substantial and compelling reasons” the State Parole Board may deny parole in cases where a  person would be likely to be released.

Those reasons include: the prisoner’s behavior while in prison such as additional criminal convictions, his or her refusal to take part in programming that could reduce the prisoner’s risk and if the prisoner has threatened to hurt someone if released.

John Copper, the Associate Director of Policy and Research for the advocacy group Safe and Just Michigan said evidence-based decision making is the best way to limit subjective decision making in the criminal justice system.

The law will help remove potential bias that could keep people locked up who are at low risk for reoffending, he said.

“This is going to eliminate subjective decision making in low-risk cases while preserving the Parole Board’s ability to deny parole to low risk prisoners based on legitimate safety concerns, “ Cooper said.

“Smart on Crime”  laws like this one have helped to reduce Michigan’s prison population, Cooper said.