With another year coming to a close, it’s time to take a look at a few remarkable criminal justice victories throughout Northern America.
District of Columbia
B22-0452, the Clemency Board Establishment Act of 2017, was introduced on September 19. This creates a Clemency Board to advance local control over the Clemency process by reviewing applications for pardons and communications for District of Columbia Code offenders. The Clemency board is tasked with selecting cases for recommendation to the President of the United States for Clemency. The bill establishes the board’s composition and the eligibility criteria for offenders. This bill was enacted on July 30, 2018 as part of DC Act 22-434, the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2018.
Concerning lowering the period of mandatory parole from five years to three years for certain felony offenses, HB18-1029 was introduced January 10, 2018. Under previous law, the length of a mandatory parole sentence for a class 2 and 3 felony is 5 years. The bill lowers the length of mandatory parole for a class 2 felony if the offense is not a crime of violence and a class 3 felony to 3 years. The bill was enacted on April 23rd.
HB 5377, the Objective Parole Bill, was established to provide an objective parole process. This bill promotes consistency in the parole process, while preserving the parole board’s ability to deny parole to anyone for objective public safety reasons. In creates a presumption of parole for low-risk prisoners and requires annual parole review for all low and medium risk prisoners. Within five years, this new law is projected to reduce Michigan’s prison population by 1800-2400 beds and save Michigan $40 million annually.
HB 387 reduces barriers to driver’s licenses, including mandatory suspension of driving privileges and imposition of jail time for unpaid fines. Under the new law, judges now must assess offenders individually by considering prior arrests, potential need for treatment, and financial state, before incarcerating someone over court debt.
HB 2579 provides compensation for a person who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. It is one of the strongest exoneree compensation laws in the county, providing significant financial compensation, a certificate of innocence and expungement to clear records, and social services to assist with short-term and long-term needs including housing and tuition assistance, counseling, participation in state health care program and financial literacy training