By Ed White, Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — The state of Michigan is placing a frail paroled prisoner in an assisted-living center at taxpayer expense after the federal government declined to deport him to Cuba, officials said.
Prudencio Loyrafuls’ life sentence for drug crimes was reduced in December by then-Gov. Rick Snyder, an exceptional decision that made him eligible for release after 30 years in prison. The parole board knew the 72-year-old wasn’t a U.S. citizen and figured that federal authorities would take him off the state’s hands.
But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said no.
As a result, the Corrections Department has spent weeks trying to come up with a solution for Loyrafuls, a native of Cuba who doesn’t speak much English and uses a wheelchair. Since winning parole in January, he has stayed at a prison hospital in Jackson and been shuttled between prisons in Muskegon and suburban Detroit.
“We’re just not going to drop him off in the middle of town and say, ‘good luck,'” said Chris Gautz, a department spokesman.
He said the parole board believed Loyrafuls wasn’t a threat to public safety, a key factor in any release. But Gautz acknowledged that deportation was a consideration, too, when the board looked at his application.
“If another country was going to take him back, that’s one less individual that taxpayers here have to pay and take care of,” he said.
Loyrafuls declined to speak to The Associated Press.
He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in Macomb County and sentenced to life in prison in 1989, nine years after entering the U.S. Loyrafuls wasn’t a model inmate: He had 32 major misconduct tickets.
He also wasn’t contrite when he appeared at a public hearing in December, a critical step for any prisoner seeking to have a sentence shortened by a Michigan governor. Many of Loyrafuls’ statements to the parole board chairman were hostile and didn’t make sense.
“You’re just playing me. … I’m not going to tell you anything. … I am number one in this country,” he said, according to a transcript.
Nonetheless, the board recommended that Snyder cut Loyrafuls’ no-parole sentence. He signed the order days before leaving office on Jan. 1.
ICE, which was aware of Loyrafuls, declined to take him. Spokesman Khaalid Walls said it was a matter of “prosecutorial discretion” after a “comprehensive review.” He didn’t elaborate.
The Corrections Department subsequently has worked to send Loyrafuls somewhere. He is supposed to be placed at an assisted-living center this week, said spokeswoman Joelle Craddy.
“We will pay until other sources can be arranged. The goal is generally 90 days or less,” she said.
Luciano Perez, a former prisoner who shared a cell with Loyrafuls, tried to put his friend in a good light.
“I’m blessed to have met him because I look at him like a grandpa. … He is remorseful for what he did,” Perez, who owns a trucking company, told the parole board. “He might not flat-out tell you like this, but I promise you that he’s no longer a threat to the public.”
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