Monday, December 20, 2010

Michigan: Granholm the Merciful

The Detroit Free Press has an extensive report on the clemency program of  Gov. Granholm "the most merciful chief executive in modern Michigan history, and possibly of all time." The piece notes the governor has granted 179 commutations over the last eight years, "most of them in the last three years, when she has ordered at least one release a week." This year alone she has considered more than 2,000 applications. A spokesperson says Ganholm:
"believes in a deliberative, judicious and limited use of commutation authority Her commutation decisions reflect her desire to protect public safety without ignoring the need to reduce prison costs and bring Michigan's sentencing policies in line with other states."
Granholm's practices are described as "a sharp departure" from her immediate predecessors handled. James Blanchard (D) 1983-90, issued only a half-dozen commutations, all but one during his last week on the job. John Engler (R) 1991-2002, commuted the sentences of only 34 inmates. William Milliken (R), who "has urged Granholm to exercise her authority to grant clemency more generously," commuted only 95 sentences in his 13 years in office.

The report also notes that the "overwhelming majority of inmates whose sentences have been commuted by Granholm were serving for drug crimes or were deemed seriously ill." And, "the state saves money when it releases a seriously ill inmate because the treatment then is picked up by Medicaid or other insurance." In addition, "none of the prisoners released by commutation in the Granholm era has committed a new, violent crime." See story here.

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