Senate moves to ban inmates from having trophies of victims

LANSING — Michigan inmates would be banned from having trophies of their crimes under legislation approved by the Michigan Senate Thursday, said Sen. Mike Kowall.

Senate Bill 645 would prohibit prisoners from receiving or possessing any item that belongs or belonged to a victim of a crime they are incarcerated for, or any photograph, drawing or other visual image of their victim.

“Allowing prisoners to have photographs of their victims is disturbing on multiple levels,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “I can only imagine that to a victim, finding out your attacker has a picture or memento of you would feel like being victimized all over again. We must put an end to this sick behavior.”

The measure was introduced after a victim’s family discovered a Michigan Department of Corrections prisoner, convicted of a sexual offense, had pictures of his victims in his cell.

The family asked for the photographs to be removed and they were informed that the prison could not do so without a court order.

In other news, legislation designed to help provide assurances to Michigan residents with advance directives was also approved Thursday.

SB 723 would create the Peace of Mind Registry, a searchable database providing health care providers access to a patient’s advance directives from anywhere in the country.

“Establishing a central registry will help ensure that a patient’s wishes are respected,” Kowall said. “Most importantly, this registry is completely voluntary and won’t cost Michigan taxpayers a penny.”

Advance directives are legal documents allowing individuals to specify their decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time.

Currently, there is no centralized, statewide registry for patient advocate designations or other end-of-life documents that health care providers can access.

“I look forward to seeing Governor Snyder sign both of these important measures into law,” Kowall said.

SBs 645 and 723 will now advance to the House of Representatives for further consideration.