In early April 2020, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office began receiving letters from the Michigan Department of Corrections about the paroling prisoners due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. These parolees have served their minimum sentences to be eligible for parole. The letters came via email with no information about the cases, no information about the prisoner's record during incarceration, and no health information about the prisoner. MDOC indicated that they did not have victim information on file. (See Attachment A - MDOC Letter.)
The letter notifies us that: (1) the Michigan Parole Board has decided to parole the prisoner; and (2) the prisoner will be released on parole 28 days after the date of the letter. MDOC is required to give prosecutors 28 day notice before releasing the prisoner on parole. The letters request that prosecutors consent to releasing the prisoners before the 28 day period expires.
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office (WCPO) is denying the request to waive the 28 days before a prisoner is released, until a victim has been notified. There isn't enough information given by MDOC to make an informed decision. It is imperative that victims are located and made aware of the upcoming paroles. While MDOC does not show there is a victim, it is our duty to find and notify the victim of the parole. In these cases, it is not a question of whether the prisoner will be released after 28 days; they will be released.
Prosecutor Worthy said, "MDOC has made a decision to release these 168 prisoners. These are prisoners for whom MDOC has no victim contact information. If they did, they would have contacted the victim or victim's family to let them know about these releases. As a result, it would certainly be extremely irresponsible of us not to take a little time to find and notify them. This is what we have been doing and will continue to do during this 28 day period. Some of these prisoners have committed murder, criminal sexual conduct, armed robbery and other very serious crimes. We will perform our due diligence as expeditiously as we can. In some cases we will be able to do this swiftly and we will waive the balance of the 28 days so that these prisoners can leave the prison system faster. In other cases we may have to use more time. We owe this to victims of crime. We urge the MDOC to provide us with a faster way to receive more information. With better cooperation, we may be able to move more quickly."
We are asking for the assistance of the media to publicize the names of the prisoners so that victims can contact WCPO about their case. A list with the names of each prisoner we have received a letter for appears on Attachment B. We will continue to update the names of prisoners on our website the Victim Services Unit section, as new letters are received.
If you are a crime victim and see the defendant on their case, please call our Victim Services Unit at: (313) 224-5800 or contact the head of Victims Services, Lyshay McGowan, via email: Lmcgowan@waynecounty.com
Attachment A - MDOC Letter
Attachment B - List of Prisoner Names