The politicians, including state Sen. Alan Cropsey, held a press conference Friday to make a point: Democrat Mike Huckleberry, running for the 70th House seat, supports early-release programs that could lead to tragedies similar to the Oct. 6 slayings of Robert and Norma Bean, of Howard City.
But state prison officials accused Republican leaders of using the Bean murders to intentionally mislead voters.
The two guys charged had already served their minimum sentences and had been released by a parole board. Republicans want to claim that the governor and the DOC are to blame, and use this incident against Mike Huckleberry in his race against Thomas Ginster because Huck supports releasing non-violent prisoners to reduce Michigan's spending on rapidly-increasing prison costs. Michigan houses nearly 50,000 inmates; 60% are in for non-violent and drug crimes, and we far outpace our Great Lakes neighbors on rates of incarceration. Michigan is one of just four states to spend more money on prisons than higher education, not exactly something to brag about.
"Obviously, this was a horrible tragedy," state prison spokesman Russell Marlan said. "But to use that tragedy in a political way and try to say the governor or the Department of Corrections or anyone running for office was responsible for that is irrational and just not true.
"These were two normal paroles, no special circumstances, no special programs. Both were eligible and both were paroled."
And one of the guys charged in the murders would not have been released under this new proposal anyway.
In any case, Stephan would not have qualified because he had a violent history -- larceny from a person.
This little fact doesn't stop the Republicans from trying to exploit someone's tragedy for their own means.
Had enough yet?