How to Request Early Release from Prison
Prison sentences are sometimes deserved; however, they also result from rogue or over-harsh judges or prosecutors. There are circumstances when a prisoner should be granted an early release.
Sentences of Incarceration
A sentence including incarceration can include time in prison or county jail. A county jail sentence will be no longer than one year. For prison sentences, Michigan has indeterminate sentencing. Most offenders are sentenced to prison with a minimum and maximum term of years. After the inmate serves the minimum sentence, they become eligible for parole. Seeking an early release from prison is complex, and few lawyers have the experience and savvy to give their clients a fighting chance.
How can an inmate request early release from prison?
A reduction in a sentence by the Governor of Michigan is called a commutation of sentence. If the Governor grants a commutation of sentence, the sentence is reduced, and the prisoner is either immediately eligible for parole or eligible for parole earlier than allowed by their original sentence.
An application for a commutation of sentence is filed with the Michigan Parole Board. The Parole Board is responsible for conducting an investigation and making a recommendation sent to the Governor’s office. If an application for commutation of a sentence is unsuccessful, the prison cannot file a new application for at least two years. Because the stakes are high and there is no room for error, you should only consider filing for a commutation of sentence with an experienced attorney’s assistance.
How is the decision to grant or deny an application for commutation of a sentence made?
After receiving the application for a commutation of sentence, the Parole Board has 60 days to review the application and decide by a majority vote whether or not to open the case to a public hearing. If the Parole Board decides that the application doesn’t merit holding a public hearing, the application and supporting materials go directly to the Governor for review. The Governor is advised of the Parole Board’s opinion regarding whether the Governor should grant relief.
If the Board grants a hearing, they notify the judge and prosecutor. The judge and prosecutor have 30 days to submit any comments or objections to the Parole Board to review before moving forward with the hearing. If there was a victim, that person could submit any comments within 30 days.
The Hearing Regarding a Request for Early Release from Prison
The Michigan Attorney General’s office represents the government at the hearing regarding a prisoner’s request for early release from prison. The Government and the prisoner can call witnesses at the hearing, submit evidence, and any victim can either testify or submit written testimony. By majority vote, the Parole Board makes a recommendation regarding the application. After the Parole Board makes a decision, the recommendation, the application, all evidence submitted, and a hearing transcript are forwarded to the Governor’s office. The Governor makes the final decision on whether to grant a commutation of sentence.
If the Governor commutes the sentence, the prisoner becomes eligible for parole immediately or at some time sooner than initially scheduled. The Board votes on parole and majority vote rules. Usually, a person who the Governor grants a commutation of sentence is promptly paroled and released from prison.
What would justify a commutation of a sentence?
The most common reason a prisoner’s sentence is commuted is because of dire health issues. The Michigan Department of Corrections is notorious for providing scant medical care, and it may be that a seriously or terminally ill inmate needs private health care. In cases where there is a terminal diagnosis, the Governor grants commutation for compassionate reasons so the inmate can spend the remainder of their life with their family.
The Governor might grant a commutation of sentence for several reasons, such as political pressure, change in laws, changing attitudes towards drugs, like marijuana, to correct a miscarriage of justice, facts unknown at the time of sentencing, and more.
Cost to Hire an Attorney for a Commutation of Sentence
An attorney is not necessary to apply for a commutation of sentence; however, an experienced lawyer gives a prisoner the best possible chance of getting a favorable decision. A successful and experienced lawyer will charge a higher fee than a less experienced or accomplished attorney. You know the old phrase, “you get what you pay for.” At LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., we have decades of experience successfully advocating for clients under the most challenging circumstances. We routinely achieve results that other lawyers believed were unrealistic. No lawyer can ethically offer guarantees or promises regarding the likelihood of success on an application for a commutation of sentence; however, our team can help the applicant maximize their chances of success.
Typically, the cost of a retainer with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., is $5,000.00. A retainer is a down payment, and the total fee could exceed that amount. If this amount, as a deposit, is within your budget, call us for a free consultation.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.