Work release reform sent to governor

Work release reform sent to governor

LANSING—A package of legislation designed to strengthen oversight for prisoners on work or school release was approved by the Michigan House of Representatives on Thursday and will soon be on the governor’s desk, said sponsor Sen. Rick Jones.

“This legislation will ensure that an inmate’s work or school has been thoroughly verified and the court is aware of his or her location in an effort to protect Michigan’s citizens from violent felons,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

In 2011, an Eaton County Circuit Court Judge granted work release to a convicted felon based on a phony document provided to the inmate’s attorney from an acquaintance.  Instead of working, this inmate allegedly committed a series of break-ins and then allegedly committed a double homicide against a retired state trooper and his wife. 

Senate Bill 1126, sponsored by Jones, requires that once a prisoner is approved for release, the Department of Corrections Bureau of Probation must provide verification of employment or enrollment to a judge before the inmate is released.  This verification must take place within seven days of the prisoner being approved for work release.

Jones also introduced SB1127, which requires that any felon on school or work release wear an electronic monitoring device, which would be paid for by the inmate.

“This legislation may have prevented two of my friends being brutally murdered,” Jones said. “The goal of our corrections system is to rehabilitate prisoners so that one day they can be productive members of society, and work release is a critical part of that process. However, public safety must be a chief concern when deciding if an inmate can be granted work or education release.”