Four new laws are going into effect in 2013 that will dramatically increase penalties for arson in Michigan.
The laws revise sentencing guidelines to give courts more latitude to hand down longer prison terms.
Robert Moran is Wayne County’s Chief of Special Investigations.
Previously, he says the stiffest penalty for arson was a 10 year sentence. “If I set a shack on fire and burn it to the ground and no gets hurt, it shouldn't be the same penalty as setting a business on fire and having ten firefighters get hurt and not be able to work ever again.”
Moran notes that Wayne County has been building consensus with other stakeholders on this issue for almost two years. “We got support from the Prosecuting Association of Michigan, different insurance agencies, there was support from both sides of the isle - Democrats and Republicans, in the House and the Senate and of course then the Governor was supportive of our actions too.”
In 2011, there were more than 10,500 fires in Michigan proven to be arson or suspected arson.
- Chris Zollars, Michigan Radio Newsroom