The recent passage of House Bill 5377 this month was a good thing, at least on paper. It requires that the Parole Board give “objective, evidence based” decisions according to consistent guidelines when it comes to granting or denying a prisoner parole. Good news, if it is implemented with integrity. It doesn’t, however, address the issue of the Parole Board giving its recommendations to the Governor about requests for clemency. However, it should because the recent recommendation to the Governor to deny Fred Freeman clemency came with absolutely no justification for their decision. It betrays the arrogance of the Parole Board giving recommendations of life or death proportions, and yet believing there is no need to give reasons for their conclusions.
The truth is, they just don’t like Fred, mainly for two reasons. First, the criminal justice system frowns on prisoners who maintain their innocence. They are looked upon as being unrepentant. That’s a tough place to be in. I call it “selling your innocence”. Do that and you will begin a process that may lead eventually to parole. Maintain your innocence, and you will suffer the consequences.
The second reason the Parole Board dislikes Fred Freeman is that he has continually stood up for his rights and the rights of other prisoners. The pettiness of the prison system’s retaliation toward those who would dare expose their behavior is truly mind boggling. So when Freeman wins a $320,000 lawsuit for the MDOC’s deficient medical care, one gets an idea of the courage this man possesses. Still, the bottom line is that the Parole Board just doesn’t like Fred Freeman.
Through the untiring efforts of Dave Sanders of Proving Innocence, several have stuck out their political necks to support Fred, urging Gov. Rick Snyder to ignore the Parole Board’s baseless recommendations. Chang calls this case "an atrocious . . . miscarriage of justice" in our state. Bieda calls it "a black mark . . . on Michigan's record of criminal justice".
We invite you to read their letters by clicking on the picture. We hope they move you to pick up the phone and call the governor’s office, who alone may determine Freeman's fate. Urge him to do the right thing and grant Fred Freeman the clemency he deserves.