Hundreds of Michigan prison inmates convicted of violent crimes are eligible for release in the next two months as the state accelerates paroles to cut costs. A list of thousands of potential parolees obtained by the Detroit News gives a snapshot of who is on deck as the state seeks to trim its corrections budget by 6 percent in 2010. It includes some of the state’s worst criminals, as well as hundreds of sex offenders, drug dealers, drunken drivers, and bank robbers.
The list, demanded by Detroit prosecutors and released only after a judge’s order, provides a glimpse inside a process that has been going on routinely for years — but is under fire from law enforcement officials worried they don’t have the time or resources to challenge potential parolees they believe pose a threat to public safety. Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper led the fight to sue for the information because her office was repeatedly denied information about planned interviews of parole candidates in sufficient time to appeal cases. “The Michigan Department of Corrections says ‘trust us’ in releasing criminals on parole to save money,” said Cooper, who has called the state’s effort “reckless.”