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Mich. Legislature sends criminal justice reform bills to Gov.

A series of “milestone” criminal law bills have passed the Michigan legislature, potentially signaling a significant shift in the way the state treats minor offenders.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the package of 20 bills would make several changes to the criminal justice system in Michigan. Many of the bills focus on parole and probation.

For example, one bill would change the parole system to impose penalties for violations that stop short of sending parolees back to prison, at least at first. Another bill would impose limits on prison sentences for probation violations. Yet another would require prosecutors to show that someone on parole or probation was actually committing new crimes, as opposed to technical violations, before trying to lock up him or her.

Other efforts to help reduce recidivism fell short, however. The House failed to pass a bill that would have granted payments of up to $7,200 to employers who hired people with a felony record. Another failed bill would have required separate prison facilities for 18- to 22-year-old prisoners to keep them away from older inmates.

The package of bills that did pass now awaits action by Gov. Rick Snyder. The Free Press article did not speculate on whether all of the bills would receive Snyder’s signature.

Michigan’s criminal laws are always subject to change by lawmakers and interpretation by the courts. So is the federal law. That is why it is important that when you choose a criminal defense attorney, you select one that keeps up on changes to the law and adapts his or her representation accordingly.

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