Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Michigan: Granholm's Clemency Policy

In this editorial, Governor Granholm's "sensible record" of releasing ailing and elderly prisoners is attributed to the fact that she was a "lame-duck governor" who was "able to pursue sound public policy" even if it was "politically unpopular." Supportive of the notion is that fact that she commuted the sentences of 124 prisoners (including 38 convicted murderers) and most during her second term in office. Nonetheless it is recognized that:

Every tax dollar spent on incarceration is a dollar unavailable for police protection, preschool education, drug and alcohol courts, and other programs that have been proved to reduce violent crime. Criminals who represent a continuing threat to the public must be kept behind bars. But a state that increasingly lacks the wherewithal to support even basic law enforcement functions simply cannot afford to incarcerate those who no longer pose a threat.

The murderers whose sentences she commuted, for example, averaged 63 years of age and had spent an average of 36 years in prison. Each recipient was also "vetted" by a Clemency Board. See story here.

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