Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Elephant in the room: Rothermel


Some say that Scott Rothermel is not such a bad guy, and that his marred reputation is not entirely his fault.

Well, let me start from the beginning.

Mr. Rothermel is an Assistant Attorney General, and one of his assignments is to participate in Public Hearings conducted by the Michigan Parole Board. The board holds these hearings for prisoners convicted of serious of crimes who are being considered for release.

The Board stresses that the purpose of these hearings is to determine whether the prisoner might still be a threat to the public. If it is determined that he/she is not fit to reenter society, they’ll be sent back to the slammer. The PB wants to take no chances, and no one can fault them for that.

The Public Hearing is conducted by at least one member of the Michigan Parole Board. A major part of the hearing, however, is led by Assistant Attorney General Scott Rothermel, who explains, at the onset, that he represents “the people of the State of Michigan.”

As readers of this column know, I find Mr. Rothermel’s tactics distasteful.

But why do I label him “the elephant in the room?”

-Many spectators have been appalled by his heavy-handed methods of seemingly “re-trying” the case for which the inmate has been convicted;
-Many inmates have been traumatized by his tactics;
-He always recommends no parole for any prisoner convicted of a violent crime, regardless of the testimony in the hearing, regardless of the number of years that have passed, and regardless of the progress and changes in the inmate’s life;
-And because Parole Board members themselves quietly agree that they don’t like his tactics and often ignore his recommendations.

And yet, his role continues. Nobody openly talks about it. Nobody does anything about it.

Now, finally, some tough talk from a major player! It’s included in a piece written by one of the state’s leading prisoner advocates. Natalie Holbrook, who represents the Quaker organization AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE, has authored an outstanding document called Ending perpetual punishment: The case forcommutations for people in Michigan prisons.

In her proposals for change, Natalie says that the Governor of the State of Michigan should
“…Instruct the parole board member/s conducting public hearings to take back the hearing process from the Attorney General’s representative (AAG). The board member is in charge of the hearing, not the AAG. The AAG is given way too much latitude to essentially “re-try” people instead of letting them express their past wrongs and how they have worked on themselves amidst difficult obstacles to set things as ‘right’ as possible.”

Right on!

Our thanks to Natalie Holbrook. It’s time to corral the elephant.





1 comment:

Robert Bulten said...

Amen to this and Ms Holbrook. I attended one public hearing and was appalled at the AAG's behavior, aggressive to say the least.