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Schuette Plan To Make Michigan Safer: Violent Criminals Off The Street & 1,000 New Cops On The Beat
January 25, 2012
LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced a public safety legislative initiative to make Michigan safer by putting 1,000 new police on patrol and taking repeat violent offenders off the streets with the VO-4 plan that creates a minimum 25-year sentence for violent criminals who have committed four felonies. Schuette was joined at the announcement by Mrs. Linda Nehasil, widow of Livonia Officer Larry Nehasil, Detroit Chief of Police Ralph Godbee, former Livonia Chief of Police Robert Stevenson, county prosecutors, and representatives from the Police Officers Association of Michigan and the Fraternal Order of Police.
"With four of the top ten most violent cities in America, Michigan will never fully flourish unless our governments can fulfill their basic task: protecting public safety," said Schuette. "When families and job creators live in fear, no student can learn, no company will create a job, and no family can walk the streets of their own neighborhood in peace. It is time to put more cops on the beat and remove our most violent repeat offenders from our neighborhood streets."
Noting that Michigan is facing the double tragedy of losing more than 3,200 law enforcement officers since 9/11, while also being home to four of America's top ten most violent cities, Schuette called for the addition of at least 1,000 new cops in communities statewide. The officers could be funded by the legislature with approximately $140 million of Michigan's current budget surplus of nearly $450 million. Schuette said he is ready to work closely with Governor Snyder, Senate Majority Leader Richardville and House Speaker Jase Bolger and legislative leaders to determine the most effective way to helping local communities statewide with the severe decline of police officers.
Schuette also proposed legislation known as VO-4 which targets the worst repeat violent offenders by establishing a minimum prison sentence of at least 25 years for criminals convicted of a serious violent crime after already being convicted of any three prior felony convictions. The result would be serious, violent repeat offenders be lodged in prison in order to stop the severely damaging and incredibly expensive repeat violent crimes that negatively impact Michigan families and our state's ability to fully recover. Experts at the Cost Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice estimate that just one murder creates approximately $8.4 million in victim costs. Using their methodology, conservative estimates suggest that Michigan faced approximately $4.6 billion in victim costs for its 556 reported murders in 2010 alone. Examples of qualifying crimes include: 2nd Degree Murder; Attempted Murder; Assault with Intent to Murder; Criminal Sexual Conduct (1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree); Carjacking; and Kidnapping
Schuette referenced the cases of four convicted murderers with long rap sheets who would have been behind bars had the tougher VO-4 sentencing provision been in place at the time of their fourth felony conviction. Schuette highlighted the case of Terry Bowling, 49, who was recently convicted of second degree murder and other crimes for his role in a home invasion that resulted in Livonia Police Officer Larry Nehasil being killed in the line of duty last year. Prior to facing the second degree murder charge, Bowling had six felony convictions and nine misdemeanors. Under Schuette's proposal, Bowling would have faced a possible minimum of 25 years in prison after his fourth conviction for Armed Robbery in 1999, which occurred more than ten years before the death of Officer Nehasil.
Schuette's VO-4 Initiative would strengthen Michigan's Habitualization Law (MCL 769.12), which is used by prosecutors to secure tougher sentences for repeat offenders. Schuette's proposal would establish a sentencing floor of at least 25 years for offenders facing their fourth felony conviction, when that fourth conviction is a "serious violent offense," previously defined by the legislature as including*:
*First Degree Murder is not on the list of offenses because it already carries a mandatory life sentence.
In addition, Schuette also proposed the following legislative reforms:
Crime Victim's Right to Know:
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