People Protest Granholm's Early Parolee Decision

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

"If you release 5,000 inmates, you're asking for a huge problem," says one protester.

That message was big, bold and clear Tuesday as nearly 100 protesters took advantage of the nice weather to publicize their discontent over the early paroling of 5,500 non-violent, ill or aging prisoners.

"Just because you're in prison for a non-violent crime doesn't mean when prisoners get out, they're not going to do anything violent," says Jackson resident and protester Steve Hammond.

"Dollar-driven corrections are very bad policy," says MCO president Tom Tylutki. "The citizens of Michigan will end up paying."

For now, the state stands to save $122 million by paroling these prisoners early, and the Department of Corrections has made it clear their decision will not change. But spokesman Russ Marlan welcomes the protest.

"It's great to see community involved, especially the employees down there. We hope that translates into assisting us when the parolees are released," Marlan says.

Many protesters Tuesday pointed to Michigan's grim job market; they worry the parolees won't have jobs when they get out of prison and will turn back to crime.

"I think what's going to happen is there will be a higher crime rate because there are no jobs out there for those people who are being released," says Mary Reilly, who is married to a corrections officer.

Marlan can't guarantee every parolee a job upon his or her release, but he says the program that's been created for this will help those parolees find jobs, jobs that typical non-criminal citizens would not most likely think of.

"It's a tough budget situation that requires tough choices," Marlan says. "This is a tough choice."

Tell that to the protesters, who are deeply concerned, especially with Michigan's 50 percent recidivism rate.

"Who wants to be the next victim?" says one protester. "I certainly don't."

They'll continue to protest in some way or another until someone addresses their fears.

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