SADO Saved the Taxpayers over $18 Million in 2016

SADO’s role in the appellate system is to correct errors that occurred at the trial level, obtaining just results for clients whether they pled guilty or were convicted at trial.  Staff attorneys are well-trained and well-supervised professionals who practice criminal defense on a full-time basis.  They are extremely capable of evaluating how best to proceed with an appeal, opting in many cases for correction in the trial court shortly after conviction, and in a significant number of cases for dismissal of the appeal entirely (in plea appeals presenting risk).  Appellate and trial courts agree with claims raised in a large number of cases resulting in sentence correction.  Correcting sentencing error in a case produces the sentence that should have been applied in the first place, one that is both accurate and appropriate in light of sentencing guidelines.  These sentencing error corrections produce not only just results, but considerable savings to the state in prison costs.   Minimum sentences also are reduced when convictions are dismissed outright, as when evidence at trial was legally insufficient.  These cases, while small in number, contribute to the substantial savings in the cost of incarceration.  In 2016, savings amounted to $18,113,812*. This marked a sharply increased savings from prior years due to the resentencing of 23 juvenile lifers from mandatory-life to term-of-year sentences. 

* The cost of prisoner incarceration is supplied by the Michigan Department of Corrections and was $35,157 annually in 2016.

SADO attorneys raise sentencing issues in nearly one-third of filings, on appeals from their clients’ trial and guilty plea convictions.  Many sentencing claims allege mistakes in scoring of sentencing guidelines, or overly high sentences based on inaccurate information about the individual or the crime.  Often, mistakes are corrected by returning immediately to the trial court to provide another opportunity to impose an accurate and just sentence.  Some of the reported reductions are due to dismissal of all convictions in a case.  Some savings are attributable to money already spent on needless incarceration, such as where an individual was exonerated.  When a sentence is corrected downward, to produce a lower minimum term, the individual becomes eligible for parole sooner.  Each individual will consume fewer state resources, the cost of prison confinement, through such a reduction in the minimum sentence.  SADO conservatively computes such reductions: if an individual is serving multiple sentences in a SADO case and receives correction of just one, the impact is not computed.