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A Better Partnership
April 21, 2016

A consecutive sentence cannot be ordered for an individual on federal supervised release as opposed to parole

In People v. Clark, No. 322852, defendant appealed by leave granted a judgment sentencing him to 38 months to 240 months’ imprisonment consecutive to his term of federal supervised release that defendant was serving.  Defendant argued that he was not subject to consecutive sentencing because he was not on “parole” at the time the offense was committed.  The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed and remanded for sentencing.
Under MCL 768.7a(2), if a person is convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for a felony committed while the person was on parole from a sentence for a previous offense, the later term of imprisonment begins to run at the expiration of the remaining portion of the previous term of imprisonment.  The parties disputed whether “supervised release” with respect to a conviction on a federal offense comes within the meaning of the term “parole” as used in the statute.
The Court of Appeals concluded that there are significant differences between “parole” and federal “supervised release.” The most noteworthy difference being that an individual on parole is not sentenced to a term of parole but rather becomes eligible and may be granted parole, with successful completion of parole remitting the remaining portion of the previously imposed prison sentence.  On the other hand, “supervised release” is imposed at the initial sentencing to be served following completion of imprisonment.  Furthermore, the Act in which Congress created supervised release was already in existence yet the Legislature did not include the term when it enacted MCL 768.7a(2).  Because MCL 768.7a(2) clearly and unambiguously refers only to “parole,” the Court refused to read into the statute the term “supervised release.”  Therefore, the Court held that the trial court erred in ordering that defendant’s sentence run consecutively to his federal sentence.
Judge O’Connell dissented and concluded that because supervised release is defined as federal parole and both are imposed for the same reason, i.e., the defendant committed a previous offense, the Legislature intended that MCL 768.7a’s reference to “parole” include federal supervised release.

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