Rep. Sarah Lightner spearheads plan to support survivors of traumatic crimes

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FILE – In this Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, file photo guards observe inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, in Lincoln, Neb. Nebraska officials are pushing for a new, $230 million prison to relieve inmate overcrowding, even as prison officials in other states close prisons. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik File)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) Republican State Representative Sarah Lightner announced on Tuesday that she will spearhead a bipartisan plan to improve Michigan’s parole process and offer more support to survivors of traumatic crimes.

Lightner is sponsoring the bill alongside Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township.)

In Michigan, when a prisoner is denied parole, the Parole Board is required to review the case every one to two years.

Advocates for Lightner’s plan say that this process forces the victims to frequently relive traumatic events, even if the prisoner has no chance of receiving parole.

“Asking the survivor of a horrific crime to relive the trauma year after year is just cruel,” Lightner said in a press release. “We can make common sense reforms to the parole system to better support survivors and make the entire process more effective for everyone involved.”

Randy Gilbert, a survivor of a serial-killer attack, testified about the trauma he experiences when he testifies at a parole hearing.

“I try to find normalcy in life between parole hearings, but six months at a time is just not enough,” Gilbert told the committee. “This bill will allow victims like myself time to rest for a moment – rest we deserve after being victims of such violent crime.”

Lightner’s bill would add additional time between parole hearings after a prisoner is denied parole by up to 5 years.

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