Since January, corrections officials in Michigan have been cracking down on parole violators, sending them back to prison by the busload. But this sweep has contributed to filling prisons to capacity and now officials are looking for somewhere to put new inmates.
According to the Detroit News, 1,000 parolees have been taken back into custody since the beginning of the year. Because half of the state’s 20,000 parolees live in Metro Detroit, prison facilities in the immediate area are full.
One option to house the extra inmates would be to reopen the Mound Prison, which was closed in January to save costs. But some lawmakers and Department of Corrections’ spokesperson Russ Marlan said that simply isn’t on the table. Neither is housing the inmates in already crowded county jails.
Though he wouldn’t discuss what options are on the table, he did say the agency was close to making a decision.
When inmates are released on parole, they are given certain rules to abide by. If they break these rules, they can be sent back to prison to work on finishing their sentence. Usually, those who have their parole “revoked” have committed a new crime or have stopped showing up to meetings with their parole officer, known as “absconding”.
The crack-down on local parole violators came in February when director Daniel Heyns ordered an audit of all ex-convicts under parole and probation supervision—there are about 70,000. In just the handful of months that have passed since the audit was ordered, five parole officers have been suspended after offenders under their supervision were involved in Detroit homicides.
Like probation, parole is considered a privilege, a chance to serve a portion of a prison sentence within the community. It’s when you take this for granted, violating the terms of the supervision, that the privilege can be taken away and you can be ordered to active time.
The terms of a probation period or a parole term can vary from person to person, but usually include regular visits with a supervising officer, random drug tests, mandatory employment and/or education, and staying crime-free. Violating any one of these terms, but particularly if you violate more than one, can result in the activation of your sentence and a much tougher road.
As for probation, you could be eligible for this version of community supervision when you are accused of a criminal offense and you don’t have a criminal record, or if you have proven yourself to be a valuable member of society since your last conviction.
If you are facing criminal charges, discussing your case with an attorney can help you understand your options and whether or not probation might be a possibility.
Contact our offices today to talk to an attorney about your case.