Showing posts with label Michigan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michigan. Show all posts

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Michigan: Senator Supports Clemency

U.S. Senator Carl Levin and several other "high profile" individuals are said to be supporting the clemency application of Thomas Cress, who claims he was wrongly convicted of murder more than two decades ago. A serial killer has confessed to the crime and passed a lie detector test. So, as former witnesses as recanting their own testimony, the detective and chief of police are now convinced of Cress' innocence and there is even a YouTube video out. The Michigan parole board will be holding a hearing to consider the request (for commutation of his life sentence). See story here.

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.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Michigan: Record Setting Non-Recidivism?

  The Detroit Free Press reports that Gov. Jennifer Granholm has "freed" 100 prisoners in the last two years and "is on pace to commute more sentences than her three predecessors combined." It is noted that "most" of her early commutations were "for medical reasons" and "none went to killers." But, in the last two years, she has granted commutations of sentence to "dozens" of individuals convicted of "violent crimes" (including 38 for murder).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Michigan: Granholm's Clemency Policy

Various newspapers in the Midwest are starting to provide more in-depth reporting on the exercise of clemency in Michigan. The Chicago Tribune now reports that Governor Granholm granted 100 commutations of sentence in 2008 and 2009, "more than any two-year period in the last four decades." In sharp contrast, Granholm (a former prosecutor) granted only 18 commutations in her first five years in office. 32 of the 2008/2009 commutations went to prisoners convicted of first degree murder, but about 1/3 went to prisoners because of some "medical condition." In addition, about 13,000 prisoners were paroled - the most ever. See story here and here

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Michigan: Stepped Up Pace for Clemency

Michigan Public Radio reports Governor Granholm commuted sentence for 57 prisoners last year and almost half of them went to drug felons (some of which were serving life sentences under a now-repealed law). "Medical reasons" were cited in 16 cases. It is reported that the corrections department believes 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." See story here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Michigan: Oppostition to Clemency

The Michigan Department of Corrections' parole and commutation board has set a public hearing to consider a possible commutation of sentence for 42-year old Roger Ruthruff. Rothruff was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1986 after being convicted of first degree felony murder committed during a robbery. He was 18 years old at the time of the commission of the crime, but the sentencing judge said:
"I shall never recommend parole, I shall never recommend commutation of sentence. I do not believe that society should ever again be placed at risk as the result of worrying about what conduct Mr. Ruthruff might display in the future."
Previous requests for hearings have been denied, although Ruthruff's family insists that he is a "good kid" who "just got mixed up with the wrong person." See entire article here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Michigan: Commutation of Sentence

Roosevelt Moore was convicted in 1970 for the slaying of a liquor store employee, during a robbery. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has commuted Moore's life sentence in such a manner that (it is reported) he "is likely to be freed soon." Moore is also said to be "medically fragile" and it is reasoned that he poses no "physical threat" to anyone "in the community.” See story here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Michigan: Commutation of Setence

On October 29, Gov. Granholm commuted the life sentence of 62-year old Roosevelt Moore, who has been in prison since 1971 for first-degree murder. It appears the commutation amounts to a life sentence with the possibility of parole. And, it is also reported that Moore will probable be released, because he is "considered medically fragile" and "his health is deteriorating." See full story here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Michigan: Clemency for Teen Lifers?

The Detroit News notes the State's "high number of teens sentenced to life in prison without parole has child advocates questioning laws that give judges that option." According to the News, there are 346 teens serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed between the ages of 14 and 17. It is also reported that this number "could climb" following a recent rash of crime. But Michigan is also looking at a $2.8 million deficit and Gov. Jennifer Granholm has shut prisons and paroled 3,000 more prisoners than usual to shave $120 million in costs. According to the News, Granholm has also commuted "more prison sentences than any other governor since at least 1969 -- 100 in less than seven years, compared with 35 during Gov. John Engler's 12 years in office." See story here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Michigan: Request

Gus Burns of the Saginaw News has a great story on the clemency effort of Ann P. Sangster a 69-year old woman who has served 27 years of a mandatory life sentence. Sangster was charged with the brutal murder of Claraica "Clara" B. Davis, although her husband has claimed all along that he alone was responsible. The 15-member Parole and Commutation Board will hear Sangster's plea for a commutation of sentence and make a recommendation to Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The article notes commutation requests are rare and only a few are granted. A brother of the victim argues Sangster should remain in prison. See story here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Michigan: Call for Clemency

At the Detroit Free Press, Jeff Gerritt is calling on Governor Jennfier Granholm to commute the sentence of Efran Paredes Jr., who was convicted as a juvenile to life in prison without possibility of parole. Gerritt says Paredes is "probably innocent" of the crime he was convicted of "when he was too young to vote or buy a pack of cigarettes." He adds that Paredes:
... writes, translates braille and maintains a good institutional record. If released, he wants to continue working with the visually impaired. He has become an emotionally and spiritually mature adult. Nothing in this man, either before the crime or since, suggests he would do anything but contribute to society.
On the other hand Gerritt wonders whether Granholm has the "courage" to commute the sentence. See editorial here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Michigan: Denied

The Detroit Metro Times reports Gov. Jennifer Granholm has denied a request for clemency from Frederick Freeman, who is serving a life sentence for a 1986 murder. Although there was one eye-witness, no physical evidence tied Freeman to the murder scene. He did, however, confess to a "jailhouse snitch." Later, the "snitch" admitted to collusion with prosecutors and recanted his contribution to the case before his own death. On top of all of that, Freeman's defense attorney was later censured for the use of cocaine. Critics are looking for remorse from Freeman. But he insists he cannot show remorse for something he did not do. See story here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Michigan: Denial

The Daily Reporter informs us that Donald Lewis has been denied pardon by Governor Jennifer Granholm. The 70-year-old Lewis, who is said to have "serious health problems," is imprisoned for a 1985 murder . See story here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Michigan: Commutation of Sentence

FOX News reports 71 year old Dante Ferazza, who was convicted of murder in 1967, has been granted a commutation of sentence by Governor Granholm "following a lengthy review." The victim's brother, however, is not at all pleased because - in his opinion - Ferazza has "a criminal mind." Ferazza responds, "I haven't forgiven myself for what I did. So, I don't expect the family to forgive me." See story here.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Michigan: Scared to Death!

John E. Aslin has been in prison almost 25 years for breaking into a home. The stiff sentence, however, was the result of the fact that, during the break-in, a 76-year old woman died of a heart attack! Prosecutors say Aslin knocked her down a couple of times before she escaped from the home screaming. The result was a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. Now the State Parole Board and Gov. Jennifer Granholm will consider his request for a commutation of sentence. Aslin says he is "stressed me out" about the whole affair but adds, "I can't change what I've done." See full story here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Michigan: Statement From the Governor

Perhaps in time for a decision regarding Susan LeFevre, Governo Granholm's office has provided this overview of the Governor's decision making for clemency petitions:

When Gov. Jennifer Granholm reviews clemency petitions, she gives great weight to her clemency council's initial finding that an application has merit and to the Michigan Parole Board's final recommendation after a public hearing is held. In particular, she wants to know that an inmate poses no risk to public safety. Other factors she considers on a case-by-case basis:

--the age of the inmate;
--the nature and circumstances of the crime;
--the length of the inmate's incarceration;
--the inmate's institutional record;
--the inmate's deportability;
--the extent to which the inmate has accepted responsibility for the crime;
--the extent to which the inmate has made efforts to rehabilitate himself or herself with education, therapy and programming offered in prison;
--the extent to which the inmate is terminally ill or suffers from one or more debilitating medical conditions;
--the extent to which the inmate's commutation application is supported by the prosecutor, attorney general, sentencing judge, family, community, prison officials and the substantive nature of that support;
--the extent to which the inmate's commutation application is opposed by the prosecutor, attorney general, sentencing judge and/or victim's family and the substantive nature of that opposition.

A prisoner can be considered for clemency more than once, by the current governor and future governors.

Friday, December 12, 2008

MIchigan: Controversial Release

Hat tip to one of our readers who brought to our attention an excellent article that appeared last month in the Macomb Daily. The subject is a 71-year-old prisoner who has spent 42 years behind bars but will "walk" free next month because of a commutation of sentence granted by Governor Granholm. Dante Ferrazza, was sentenced to life in prison without a chance for parole in 1967 after kidnapping and strangling another man. The body was then tied to cement blocks and tossed in a river. At the time, Ferrazza had two armed robbery convictions and was on parole.

The Attorney General's office opposes the release. A son and brother of the victim are reported to be both "angry and dismayed" that Granholm initiated it. One says Ferrazza "deserves to die in prison." The other says, "He is a danger to the community. I feel in danger myself." An assistant prosecutor has even filed an appeal calling the decision to release Frrazza "an abuse of discretion based upon the very serious nature of the instant offense and the expectations of society and the victim's family as to the serving of the life sentence."

Granholm's commutation is said to be "part of her effort to reduce the cost of and reform the state Department of Corrections, which in recent years has increasingly strained the state budget due to a rising prison population." This year, she has approved 40 early releases after approving 18 in her prior five years in office. See additional details in article here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Michigan: Call for Clemency, Courage

An editorial in the Detroit Free Press calls on Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) to commute the sentences of every one of the state's 50,000 inmates "worthy of returning to society." Why? Two reasons: "Justice and a state budget crisis." The article notes former Michigan Governor William Milliken (1969-82), commuted 95 sentences (all for first-degree murder). But Milliken says, "The one regret I have is that I didn't grant more." The piece argues:

Gov. Granholm, a former prosecutor, is a very decent and capable person whom I like and admire. But her problem in making commutations -- and on corrections issues in general -- is not only a lack of political courage but also an unbridled faith in the criminal justice system. She has told me more than once that she won't second-guess a jury. But DNA technology, here and around the country, has shown, absolutely and repeatedly, that people are wrongfully convicted.

Unfortunately, such evidence is available in only a fraction of cases. In others, incompetent defense attorneys, jury bias or a prosecutor withholding evidence can lead to a wrongful conviction. As someone who has served on two juries, I also know that many -- perhaps most -- jurors don't understand what, legally speaking, "reasonable doubt" means.

Making matters worse, scandalously low pay for court-appointed attorneys and a lack of state standards and oversight have made Michigan's public defense system one of the nation's worst.

Granholm has approved 61 commutations, but "mostly for sick and dying inmates" and "not using it in even one case where it is warranted" creates "a grave injustice." See full editorial here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Michigan: Request

Efren Paredes says he is innocent of the first-degree murder and armed robbery that he was convicted of in 1989, when he was but 15-years old. So, he is seeking clemency from Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Paredes' parents also say he was home at the time of the slaying. On Thursday, the State's Parole Board will consider his request for a commutation of sentence. See story here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Michigan: Clemency Rally

The Bay City Times reports that an ?activist group" will be conducting a rally in Lansing Friday to "pressure" Gov. Jennifer Granholm to grant clemency "to certain female prisoners." One of the, is Luanne Szenay, who was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in 1990. The rally hopes to bring attention to 15 clemency petitions before the governor and organizers are calling for release of "battered women prisoners who acted in self-defense against abusers but did not receive due process or fair trials." See story here.

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