Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Harris defends victims, opposes early release for violent criminals
RELEASE|March 19, 2024
Contact: Mike Harris

‘Second Look’ legislation would let murderers shorten prison sentences

State Rep. Mike Harris, a retired police sergeant, on Tuesday denounced legislation to allow murderers, rapists, and other violent offenders to reduce their prison sentences.

Harris, R-Waterford, reiterated his opposition to letting dangerous criminals out of prison early after the House Criminal Justice Committee held a hearing on House Bills 4556-4560, which the Democrat sponsors have dubbed “Second Look.” The radical legislation would allow almost all convicted criminals, including those sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole, to request a shorter sentence after serving only 10 years in prison. New prison terms can even be shorter than a crime’s mandatory minimum sentence required by law.

In the 90-minute hearing, the committee chair only allowed about nine minutes of testimony from opponents of the bill, none of whom were crime victims — even though numerous victims attended the meeting in order to testify.

“Heinous crimes deserve severe punishment, and long — sometimes lifetime — prison sentences keep our communities safe from violent murderers and rapists,” said Harris, who served in law enforcement for 26 years. “This radical legislation could allow even the most dangerous criminals back on the streets early. This would be a grave injustice against victims and the people of Michigan. The extreme proposal threatens people’s safety and peace of mind and burdens the law enforcement officers responsible for ensuring public safety. I stand with victims and Michigan residents against this dangerous attempt to undermine our justice system.”

Harris noted the bills would allow more than 7,450 murderers, 3,700 people convicted of criminal sexual conduct, and 1,800 armed robbers to seek a lower sentence after 10 years in prison, including 540 murderers, 343 sexual offenders, and 241 armed robbers convicted in Oakland County. More than 5,100 murderers would be immediately eligible to request a lower sentence.

HBs 4556-4560 give criminals, including the most violent murderers, a number of advantages in the resentencing process created by the bills. The sentencing judge must lower a criminal’s sentence if it is “in the interest of justice” based on a low “preponderance of the evidence” threshold, taking into account a wide variety of factors, including many that have little to do with whether someone would be a safe and productive member of the community. If a criminal with asthma, diabetes, or various other health conditions is granted a lower sentence, there is a rebuttable presumption that the reduced sentence should be for time served, with the offender immediately released from prison.

Even if a request is denied, a criminal can continue requesting a lower sentence every two to five years, forcing victims and victims’ family members to relive their trauma each time they testify against the perpetrator.

“Violent criminals inflicted unimaginable harm and trauma on their victims,” Harris said. “Under this extreme legislation, criminals can make repeated, baseless requests for a lower sentence — triggering more rounds of filings and hearings and forcing their victims to relive their trauma over and over again. Crime victims and their families deserve better.”

The bills are so extreme that only people convicted of a narrowly defined “mass shooting offense” are not eligible to try to get out of prison early.

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