Western Michigan man sentenced after 2 rape convictions

Oct 12, 2017

A West Michigan man has been sentenced to 24-51 years in prison for drugging and raping two women. Thirty-two-year-old Larry Stiff learned his sentence Tuesday after a Muskegon County jury last month convicted him of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving incapacitated victims. He received the sentence for each of the counts and will serve the sentences at the same time. 

The Muskegon Chronicle reports four women testified their drinks were drugged before they were sexually assaulted. Two others said they were drugged but managed to escape being assaulted.

GRPD launches program for formerly incarcerated women

Sep 25, 2017

To help break the cycle of recidivism, The Grand Rapids Police Department launched the CLEAR Program for Women Tuesday to help keep formerly incarcerated women from going back to prison. An acronym for Coalition, Leadership, Education, Advice, Rehabilitation, the CLEAR Program is a weekly support group that offers emotional and logistical assistance to women who have been recently released from prison. Grand Rapids police officer Ruth Walters facilitates the group. She says many women who serve time behind bars are a byproduct of the environment in which they were raised.

A 19-year-old man convicted of second-degree murder in the death of a man after what authorities called a road rage incident in western Michigan has been sentenced to prison. Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Quist on Monday ordered Christian Hillman of Ada Township to spend 22 1/2 to 100 years in prison. Quist called the assault on 64-year-old William "Andy" McFarlan of Caledonia a "heinous and vicious attack." McFarlan died after being in hospice care for weeks with a severe brain injury after the Sept. 29 attack near Grand Rapids.

Jail cell
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Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law criminal justice changes that advocates say are intended to keep criminals from reoffending.

About 30 percent of Michigan's 41,000 inmates return to prison within three years, and half have been locked up for parole or probation violations.

Combating recidivism saves the government money and makes citizens safer, according to backers of the legislation enacted Thursday.

Snyder signed the legislation at a Kalamazoo coffee shop that hires ex-offenders and helps them with life skills such as paying bills.


A jailbreak in Muskegon turned out to be more of a rescue effort for the prisoner on the run. A prisoner in the Muskegon County Jail who attempted to break out didn't get very far, and ended up stuck in the walls of the jailhouse.

Jacob Humphrey, an inmate at the detention center, tried to escape through a ceiling utility hatch on Wednesday, January 11th. Muskegon County Sheriff Michael Poulin says an officer noticed the hanging utility hatch in the booking area around 8 p.m. and decided to investigate.

The next leader of the Michigan House says he wants to bring experts together to discuss mental health treatment. 

The number of mentally ill prisoners in the prison system has grown 14 percent since 2012 to roughly 9,400.

Tom Leonard of DeWitt, who soon will become House speaker, says "early intervention" for people with mental illness saves money and can keep the public safe.

The Detroit News  reports that many mentally ill inmates cost an average of $95,000 to house at a special prison in Whitmore Lake.

The Michigan Supreme Court has awarded $750,000 in grants to 23 courts around the state for programs that help military veterans who have had brushes with the law. Instead of jail, veterans treatment courts steer offenders to programs that promote sobriety, recovery and stability. 

Participants must undergo regular drug treatment. Officials say those who take part are less likely to break the law again and more likely to find a job and improve their quality of life. Volunteer mentors help link them with employers.

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Authorities say a Michigan prison inmate has died after fighting with another prisoner and being shocked with a stun gun as guards broke up the fight.

Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz says in an email two prisoners were told to stop fighting Tuesday at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia but refused.

He says a stun gun was used on both inmates and Dustin Szot of Muskegon died later in the day.

WZZM-TV reports that Szot's family was contacted by an inmate who told them about the confrontation.

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Few states have been more aggressive in releasing inmates and diverting offenders than Michigan, where prison costs were spiraling out of control a decade ago.

After easing parole policies, officials managed to cut the inmate population by about 18 percent. But costs kept surpassing $2 billion a year, in part because too many freed prisoners came back.

Now Michigan is trying to stop the boomerang effect with a new program that removes soon-to-be-released inmates from the general population and assigns them to an exclusive "vocational village" for job training.

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The family of an inmate who died of water poisoning in April 2014 has settled a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The Grand Rapids Press reported Thursday the lawsuit filed by relatives of 40-year-old Kenneth Dalstra was settled for $1.1 million.

The suit alleged that staff at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia didn't do enough to help Dalstra.

The lawsuit says Dalstra drank large amounts of water due to a compulsion to consume liquids sometimes seen in people with mental health problems.