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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Michigan's Parole Process Explained

From time to time, our appellate clients asking about the parole process.  One way or another, incarceration and parole affects all of us; adding significant costs to maintain our freedom.

An effective criminal justice system depends on the ability of that system to reintegrate the overwhelming majority of convicted felons that have served their bit, back into some semblance of productive society.

The purpose of this post is to explain Michigan's parole process to our readers.  Whether you are a tax paying citizen, or someone with a direct connection to the MDOC, the costs and procedures affect everyone.

Here are the basics...

The Parole Board.
The Parole Board in Michigan was recently reduced in 2011 from 15 members to the current 10 members. The parole board members are appointed by the Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). The Board is the sole paroling authority for felony offenders committed to the MDOC. Members serve 4, 3, and two year terms. Regular meetings are convened by the board to assess and decide parole applications.

The Parole Eligibility Report.
A felony offender must serve the minimum sentence with the MDOC prior to becoming eligible for parole. A Parole Eligibility Report (PER) is prepared on behalf of the applicant by a staff member of the MDOC. This report informs the parole board of the background of an inmate-applicant, and makes sure the applicant's parole file is complete.

The PER also makes recommendations to the parole board for each applicant, taking "misconduct" tickets and the prior criminal record into account. The generation of this report is a critical step in the parole process.

If an applicant has not completed all of the requirements set forth in the judgment of sentence, or if his file is otherwise incomplete, this is noted in the report and parole will be denied.

The Parole Board's staffers use the PER to score a prisoner's parole guidelines. These statutorily-mandated parole guidelines form the backbone of the parole process.

The Parole Interview.
Upon submissions of a prisoner's PER, the prisoner is eligible to participate in an informal and non-adversarial interview with one or more Parole Board members assigned to the prisoner's parole panel. After this interview, a Case Summary Report is generated for the Parole Board's review.
This interview is an excellent opportunity for the prisoner to address members of the board, face-to-face, in order to make a positive impression on his candidacy for parole. The prisoner can address major misconduct tickets, and explain how and when he plans to complete any missing training requirements in order to enhance his eligibility for parole.

Of course, in a perfect world, the prisoner will have completed all required components set forth in his judgment of sentence. This is why good lawyering is so important at the trial phase of the accused's case. Corrections to the presentence investigation report must be made in the lower court as this is the “bible” relative to the prisoner as far as the MDOC is concerned. An inmate will be forced to live within the confines of any errors unless they are corrected on appeal within the timelines set out in the Michigan Court Rules.

Transition Accountability Plan.
Under the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative, the Parole Board and the MDOC are required to formulate a Transition Accountability Plan (TAP) for each prisoner facing parole eligibility.
The TAP serves the dual goals of assisting the prisoner with re-entry into our society, as well as assisting the Board with its parole decision. The TAP identifies specific risk factors for a particular inmate, sets goals relative to minimizing the identified risks, and sets forth a specific plan to help the inmate meet the established goals.

The Parole Board’s Broad Discretion.
In making decisions on parole, the Parole Board has very broad authority to decide the inmate's fate. Nevertheless, the legislature has imposed some restriction on the Board's parole decisions.
For example, the Board must follow the regulatory framework summarized in this post. Also, in no case will a prisoner be granted parole unless and until the Board is satisfied the prisoner will not become, "a menace to society or to the public safety."

In exercising its discretion, the Board takes into account a prisoner's remorse for having committed the offense for which he is incarcerated, his overall mental health, and his "social attitude". A healthy positive attitude is what it takes to achieve parole status; but that is a difficult attitude to acquire and portray from within the grim walls of a prison. The inmate seeking parole must toughen his resolve to acquire and maintain the proper attitude, shutting out all competing negative factors.

Returning to Society.
A prisoner's fate lies squarely within the hands of the Parole Board. At a minimum, the process described above must be followed to the "T". The most important factor beyond having all of one's required sentence components completed, including the payment of restitution, is the adoption and maintenance of a strong positive attitude.

Recidivism is a plague to our society and costs all of us dearly. The Parole Board's job is to identify likely re-offenders and keep them locked-up for the duration of their sentence. This is the cost to society for safety and the enjoyment of our freedom. If the parole process works, prisoners can attain parole, complete parole, and re-join the ranks of law abiding citizens.

The Michigan Court of Appeals published an opinion last month, In Re Parole of Raymond Haeger, explaining the nuts and bolts of the parole board in the context of the appellant-prisoner's CSC conviction and failed attempts at parole.

Some attorneys specialize in parole and probation consultations, assisting clients with the preparation and correction of their initial presentence reports, as well as with the parloe process.  Professional Parole Consulting is such an outfit located in Detroit, MI.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this information.
It will really helpful to solve my confusion

Process $ Chemical Engineering

December 20, 2011 at 7:23 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The part "must serve the minimum sentence before being considered for parole" is not correct.'A' felons, or first time prisoners do have the opportunity in some cases to be placed on parole before there minimum is served, although they will be on parole until that minimum is served.

January 13, 2012 at 7:59 AM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for your clarification. You are correct that there are some cases where a prisoner may be paroled prior to serving a minimum sentence.

January 13, 2012 at 8:01 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the victims input into the process? Is there any?

February 10, 2012 at 10:46 AM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

Yes, victims have statutory rights in Michigan's criminal law, and not only at sentencing. In many cases, victims of violent crimes will be in touch with the parole board, writing letters about how their lives continue to be affected by the crime the inmate perpetrated. Also, one factor in many sentences is whether any restitution ordered in the judgment of sentence has been paid; this is often a condition to parole prior to serving the maximum. Finally, the parole board will seek out input from the crime victim in some cases.

February 11, 2012 at 6:39 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How far in advance do they see the board prior to their earliest release date?

March 6, 2012 at 8:15 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eight months prior to the ERD (earliest release date)

February 3, 2013 at 4:25 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI - the Parole Board is scheduling hearings 5 months in advance not 8. Also, under what conditions do they consider parole before the minimum time period?

March 5, 2013 at 9:04 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually it can be sooner than 5 months.A relative of mine just received his date today, and it's for July 23.

April 15, 2013 at 11:47 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually prisoners are not allowed to be paroled earlier than their earliest release date. According to truth in sentencing, prisoners must serve their entire minimum. The only time when this is not true is if the priosner receives a commutation, which is not a parole.

April 29, 2013 at 10:19 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know anything about the "Reset Program" in Detroit Michigan?? My husband just had his parole hearing ("Erd is Nov 15) he has to do the reset program before he gets out. Not sure how long the program is or if he will go before or on his erd...plz help..confused

May 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a couple of people who did not have to do the minimum before.going up for what circumstances would that be considered

May 12, 2013 at 11:00 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I am the victim and the person has a violent history and he has made no effort to pay restitution - no even one cent - how do I relay to the parole bard that I think this person will continue his violence? Even thought I guarantee you he has had a completely ticket, incident free 18 months in the MI DOC. Also, can i request special conditions of parole like no contact and to stay at least 1000 feet away from my home?

June 3, 2013 at 4:50 PM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

You can use the contact below to express your concerns to the Michigan Parole Board:

Michigan Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 30003
Lansing, MI 48909
Ph: (517) 373-0270
Fax: (517) 335-0039

Good luck to you...

June 5, 2013 at 7:44 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to Nohow the parole board can issue no contact order with my husband as a stipulation of myparole but he was not part of my original charge. And I was a violated for having contact with him and sent to prison while I was on felony probation. MDOC married us while I was incarcerated. I filled out my PER and looked at him as my placement and my mother in law as my secondary placement. Him and I also run a business together. Who do I talk to about rectifying the no contact order?

August 24, 2013 at 4:10 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There needs to be a formula in place, in regards to how much influence the victim can continously use against the inmate, while in reality, there is no program in place in Michigan, in which there is an intermediary to help them both heal. The victim may not move forward if she/he has no idea what is happening behind the bars. The inmate cannot gain back his/her integrity, and his/her will to succeed without forgiveness from some of his/her quilt. There needs to be balance. There needs to be checks and accountability within the extreme power of the parole board How can inmates continue to believe in the "higher power" without the benefit of healing, and the forgiveness our country claims as chrisitans

September 19, 2013 at 8:50 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is it that a person who was paroled from prison on 12/27/2012 after doing time for a 1st degree Home Invasion..while on parole commits a 3rd offense Domestic Violence last Oct of placed in the county jail and sentenced to 1 year in the county jail for the parole violation. The jury trial was canceled 2 days before scheduled day due to a "guilty" plea for the 3rd offense Domestic Violence. This person was then let out of the county jail 1 week later & parole reinstated. They didn`t even have to serve the 1 year parole violation and they are off the reinstated parole on 12/27/2014. They got nothing for pleading guilty? I am Speechless!

February 12, 2014 at 8:19 PM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

Mr./Ms. Anonymous, we wish we knew more of the relevant facts surrounding the case you reference in your comment. It is difficult to comment without knowing all the particulars involved with this convict's judgment of sentence as well as the plea that was tendered to the circuit court. If you are a victim of this convict, we are truly sorry for that and hope you can get peace over time. Crime does affect all of us.

February 13, 2014 at 6:25 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will you please explain EXACTLY what the term Probation Violator Technical Violation means. Thank you.

February 13, 2014 at 3:36 PM 
Blogger Jessica Lloyd said...

Hello my husband was on parole and someone lied on him, a hearing was held and he was found guilty and sent back to prison for 5 years. This just happened this year he gave me the number of what he said was to be a wonderful attorney is now lost and stuck in our case. How do I file an appeal, and what is the deadline for us filing an appeal. Please help I am so lost, the was not a free lawyer this was a retained lawyer, I am so frustrated. Please help.

March 10, 2014 at 6:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just received word that my husbands parole decision was a 12 month that a continuance of his parole or a flop??? since he is in prison for parole violations?

July 9, 2014 at 4:11 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If a parolees victim is also a lawyer can he attend the parole hearing as her representative?

March 27, 2015 at 12:31 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If a parolee's victim of attempted murder is also a lawyer can he attend her parole hearing as her representative?

March 27, 2015 at 12:32 AM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

Anonymous, that is a good question; glad you found our post so many years after it was published. Our suggestion is to contact the parole board to see whether you, as the victim of a crime, and as you say, a lawyer, would be allowed to attend the hearing.

March 28, 2015 at 6:28 AM 
Blogger Norman McCreary said...

How can I get a copy of the case People vs Haegler the link is not working.

November 22, 2015 at 9:17 PM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...


I emailed you a pdf of the decision; thanks for letting us know the link was dead; that happened when the Court of Appeals changed their web platform. Here is the link in case you need it:

November 23, 2015 at 7:37 AM 

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