Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that his central crime legislation, SB 1109, also known as VO-4, passed the Michigan House of Representatives.
The legislation ensures certain repeat criminals who have committed four felonies while progressing to more violent crimes would be facing a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Throughout the legislative process, Schuette’s office has referenced examples of convicted murderers with long rap sheets who would have been behind bars and unable to threaten the public had the tougher VO-4 sentencing provision been in place at the time of their fourth felony conviction.
For example, Terry Bowling, 49, was convicted of second degree murder resulting from a home invasion that caused the death of Livonia Police Officer Larry Nehasil.
Prior to facing the second degree murder charge, Bowling had six felony convictions and nine misdemeanors.
Under Attorney General Schuette’s proposal, Bowling would have faced 25 years in prison after his fourth conviction for armed robbery in 1999, which occurred 12 years before the death of Officer Nehasil.
Linda Nehasil, widow of Officer Nehasil attended today’s House vote and was recognized on the floor before voting took place.
Mrs. Nehasil has been a strong advocate for Schuette’s VO-4 legislation, and her moving testimony during committee hearings helped put a human face on the real, life-changing impact of repeat violent offenders.
Schuette has repeatedly pointed out that the cost of crime; physical, mental and monetary; to victims, families and our communities is immense.
A study published online by the National Institutes of Health estimates that just one murder creates approximately $8.9 million in victim costs.
Using their methodology, conservative estimates suggest that Michigan faced approximately $710 million in victim costs for its 556 reported murders in 2010 alone.
Senate Bill 1109, introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and supported by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Walsh (R-Livonia), would implement the VO-4 (Violent Offense-Fourth Felony) sentencing reform by strengthening Michigan’s Habitualization Law (MCL 769.12).
The legislation targets the worst violent repeat offenders by establishing a prison sentence of at least 25 years for a select group of criminals convicted of a serious violent crime after being convicted of three prior felonies, at least one of which was a violent assaultive crime.
SB 1109 passed the house today with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 98 to 10.
VO-4 is endorsed by: Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM), Michigan Sheriffs Association, Police Officers Association of Michigan, and Michigan Fraternal Order of Police, among others.