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Old 02-07-2003, 02:29 PM
KConnor56 KConnor56 is offline
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Default New Michigan Law on Mandatory Minimums

House bills reduce prison time
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Several bills affecting mandatory minimum drug sentences were passed
in lame duck session and signed into law on December 25, 2002 by
former Governor Engler. The bills take effect March 1, 2003.



Public Acts 665, 666 and 670 of 2002:

Eliminate the mandatory minimum sentences for certain controlled
substance violations,
Revise the amount of drugs involved in those violations,
Eliminate the sentence of lifetime probation and provide that those
currently serving lifetime probation may petition the sentencing
court to be discharged from further supervision after the service of
five years,
Change the mandatory consecutive sentencing for drug offensives to
permissive consecutive sentencing,
Allow those persons currently serving mandatory drug sentences,
including mandatory consecutive sentences, to be eligible for parole
consideration in accordance with outlined sentencing changes,
Increase the number of prisoners allowed to be housed at the Robert
Scott Correctional Facility and the Western Wayne Correctional
Facility.


Basically, the changes from PA 665 and PA 666 eliminate mandatory
minimums and will allow judges to consider individual factors in each
case such as prior offenses or use of a weapon. "The proposal puts
into place what many judges are practicing now, but provides uniform
standards rather than the widely divergent approaches now used," said
Richard McKeon, DOC Executive Assistant.



Under Public Acts 665 and 666, sentencing is amended for a person
convicted of manufacturing, creating, delivering or possessing with
intent to manufacture, create or deliver for each of the violations
as follows:

1000 grams or more punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of
years or a fine of not more than $1 million, or both
450 grams or more, but less than 1000 grams, punishable by
imprisonment for not more than 30 years or a fine of not more than
$500,000, or both
50 grams or more, but less than 450 grams, punishable by imprisonment
for not more than 20 years or a fine of not more than $250,000, or
both
Less than 50 grams punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20
years or a fine of not more than $25,000, or both
25 grams or more but less than 50 grams punishable by imprisonment
for not more than four years, or a fine of not more than $25,000, or
both. This provision would not apply if the sentence were imposed for
a conviction for a new offense committed while the individual was on
probation or parole.


Sentencing guidelines have been revised to give judges more
discretion to increase penalties for more serious drug offenses.



Public Act 670 only affects parole eligibility. It does not change
the minimum sentence ordered by the Court. Prisoners affected by this
amendment will continue to have their minimum release dates
calculated as set forth in PD 03.01.100 "Good Time Credits" and PD
03.01.101 "Disciplinary Credits/Drug Law Credits," as applicable,
based on the minimum sentence imposed by the Court. However, they
also will have a parole eligibility date calculated based on the
criteria set forth above.



Depending on the specific facts of each case, it is possible for a
prisoner to be eligible for parole for a drug offense prior to the
prisoner serving his/her minimum sentence. In addition, the parole
eligibility date for a drug offense may be affected by other
sentences for which the prisoner is serving.



The changes also replace lifetime probation with a maximum five-year
probation. Beginning March 1, agents will be able to recommend to the
judge that a probationer be discharged if he or she has served five
years. Currently 6,864 people are sentenced to lifetime probation and
nearly half, 3,281, have been under supervision for more than five
years and will be potentially eligible for early release.



According to one study, the vast majority of drug sentences involve
conviction by plea agreement and mandatory minimums are already not
imposed in a significant proportion of the cases. Eliminating the
mandatory minimum brings existing statutes more into line with actual
practice.



There may be up to 554 current prisoners that will be reviewed for
potential eligibility by March 1, 2003. However, accurate projections
of the number of likely candidates for early release are unknown at
this point due to factors involving multiple prison sentences. It is
also premature to estimate how many of the eligible prisoners will
actually be released on parole by the Parole Board.
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