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Granholm commuted 57 sentences in 2009

By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

Governor Granholm commuted 57 prison sentences of felons last year. The Granholm administration filed a report outlining the commutations with the state Senate this week.

The administration cited "medical reasons" in 16 of the cases. A corrections department spokesman says that often means an inmate is close to dying. The spokesman said that not only relieves the prison of the costs of incarcerating inmates who are no longer a threat to society, but also expensive end-of-life medical bills. But taxpayers might still be picking up the tab if the former inmate's healthcare is paid for by Medicaid. Almost half of the commutations were drug felons, some serving life sentences under a now-repealed law.

The corrections department says the stepped-up pace of commuted sentences reflects Governor Granholm's desire to reduce prison costs and bring Michigan's sentencing policies in line with other states. Inmates whose sentences are commuted have to remain on parole for at least four years.

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