Advocate who saved sister from serial killer sees bills signed that keep her attacker in prison

“I’ve been advocating for this day for a long time.”
Governor Whitmer signs public safety bill
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 9:16 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2022 at 6:14 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan bills aimed at strengthening public safety laws Friday morning.

“Every family, in every community, deserves to feel safe at home and in their community,” said Governor Whitmer. “Keeping people safe is a top priority, whether from a deadly virus or violent crime.”

House Bills 4562 and 4563 amend the Michigan Corrections Code to allow the Michigan Parole Board to deny parole for violent incarcerated individuals for up to five years after a majority vote and written report. This goal is to ensure that victims of violent crimes do not have to relive traumatizing experiences every year at parole hearings, as they explain why they feel their attacker should stay in prison.

Related: Parole denied for convicted East Lansing serial killer

Randy Gilbert, who as a child took grievous wounds to save his sister from an attacker that broke into their home, was present for the signing.

“Today, I am breathing a sigh of relief knowing that my family and many others across Michigan are safer,” said Gilbert. “This legislation ensures that survivors of horrific crimes are not retraumatized year after year by being forced to relive the worst thing that happened to them. It protects communities and families like mine. I’ve been advocating for this day for a long time, and I am proud that Governor Whitmer and our legislators got it done.”

Gilbert had been advocating for the reform for years, working with representatives from either side of the aisle.

Background: Survivor of East Lansing serial killer fighting for parole system reform

“This legislation is smart policy that all of us can agree on,” said Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-HD 65). “Working across the aisle with State Representative Witwer is evidence that when working together for the health and safety of our constituents in mind, the legislature can be a force to be reckoned with.”

HB 4562, sponsored by Lightner, would amend the Corrections Code to allow the Parole Board to conduct a subsequent parole review of prisoners who had been denied parole within five years after denying a prisoner parole under certain circumstances, and to modify certain reporting requirements.

“I grew up down the road from one of Don Miller’s victims,” said Rep. Angela Witwer (D-HD 71). “Gov. Whitmer did the right thing by signing these bills before he was once again up for parole and before the families were revictimized and had to testify.”

HB 4563, sponsored by Witwer, would amend the Corrections Code to specify that all decisions and recommendations of the Parole Board would have to be by a majority vote of the Board or, except as otherwise prohibited by the Code, a Parole Board panel created under the Code.

Together, these bills are designed to require victims of the worst crimes to relive them less, as parole hearing for their attackers can be less frequent.

Rep. Lightner said, “I am thankful that Prosecutor Lloyd brought this commonsense policy to us to advocate and fight for survivors of heinous crimes, like Randy Gilbert and others that have had to live and relive the details of their trauma year after year with the parole board.”

Gov. Whitmer was joined by:

  • State Rep. Angela Witwer
  • State Rep. Sarah Lightner
  • Former Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Peter Houk
  • Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd
  • Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich
  • Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wrigglesworth

More: AG Nessel testifies on victims’ privacy and organized retail crime bills

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