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Michigan Gov. Whitmer commutes sentences for 4 men serving decades in prison for nonviolent crimes

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has commuted the sentences of four men who were spending decades in prison for nonviolent crimes.

Michael Thompson, Lawrence Cadroy, Lorenzo Garrett, and Larry McGhee have served between 16 and 22 years in prison and weren’t scheduled to be released for at least several years.

On Tuesday, Whitmer granted clemency requests for all four men after reviewing their applications and considering the Michigan Parole Board’s recommendations.

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“As a former prosecutor, I recognize how critical it is to take steps toward a smarter and more equitable justice system,” Whitmer said. “Over the last two years, we’ve worked with leaders on both sides of the aisle to make tremendous progress to give people a second chance, from reforming civil asset forfeiture to becoming a national leader on expungement.”

Conviction details

Thompson was sentenced on May 31, 1996, to 40-60 years in prison for felon in possession of a firearm. He’s served 22 years, and his earliest possible release date was in 2038.

Cadroy was sentenced on March 30, 1999, to life in prison for drug possession. He’s served 21 years, and his earliest possible release date was in 2030.

Garrett was sentenced on May 5, 1999, to 29-170 years in prison for selling drugs. He’s served 22 years, and his earliest possible release date was in 2027.

McGhee was sentenced on July 1, 2004, to 20-30 years in prison for selling drugs. He’s served 16 years, and his earliest possible release date was in 2024.

How commutation works

A commutation reduces a person’s sentence to a specified term, but does not nullify the underlying conviction. All four men have received a commutation that makes them immediately eligible for parole consideration and release.

“These commutations offer a second chance to four individuals who have accepted responsibility and paid their debts to society and whose sentences span decades for non-violent offenses,” Whitmer said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but today is a step in the right direction, and I’m confident that Michigan can continue to be a national leader in smart justice.”

Inmates have to apply with the Michigan Parole Board to be eligible for a pardon or commutation. Once a case has been reviewed and the board determines it meets the criteria for recommendation, it is sent to the governor’s office for a final decision.

“For far too long, the so-called ‘tough on crime’ and ‘war on drugs’ eras of criminal justice have led to fractured families and broken communities that make our state less safe, particularly for people of color in Michigan,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said. “Our administration has spent the last two years delivering bipartisan solutions to improve the criminal justice system in a way that levels the playing field for individuals who have committed nonviolent offenses. We will continue to find ways to provide second chances for everyone, which will make our families, neighborhoods, and communities are safer and stronger.”


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