Jones’ criminal justice reform bills headed to the governor

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday sent a bipartisan criminal justice reform package to the governor. The 20-bill package makes reforms throughout the criminal justice system, from probation to prison time to parole and integration back into society.

Included in the package are two measures by Sen. Rick Jones to allow judges to shorten an individual’s probation term as a result of good behavior and to allow an expedited process for release based on a prisoner’s medical condition.

“I was proud to be a part of a bipartisan reform effort that seeks to create a smarter and more efficient criminal justice system that protects our families and achieves better outcomes for everyone,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The vast majority of the 42,000 people in our prison system right now will one day return to our communities. That is why it is so important that we effectively rehabilitate offenders to give them the best shot at a successful and productive life after prison.”

Senate Bill 15 would allow a judge to reduce an individual’s remaining probation term by up to 100 percent if the individual has already served half of his or her probation term, the judge determines that the individual’s conduct while on probation would warrant a reduction and the reduction is recommended by the probation officer.

“My bill would provide a way for probationers who do everything right and are good citizens to have their probation cut by up to half,” Jones said. “Putting an incentive on good behavior is critical to achieving a goal of having a criminal justice system that costs less, keeps Michigan communities safe and breaks the cycle of crime.”

Jones also sponsored SB 12, which would enable the governor to request the parole board to expedite the review and hearing process for a reprieve, commutation, or pardon based in part on a prisoner’s medical condition.

“This is about being compassionate to people who are dying and pose no further risk to the public,” Jones said. “Michigan’s medical commutation process can take more than 400 days, and prisoners can die before the process is completed. The bill keeps the current system and safeguards, but speeds it up — reducing the timeframe up to 10 months.”

Jones said that shortening the timeframe would allow dying offenders to receive end-of-life care from their families or in a hospice — at a fraction of the cost to Michigan taxpayers of providing that care in a state prison.

Senate Bills 5-13, 15-24 and 50 now head to the governor to be signed.