It seemed everyone was ready to tackle criminal justice reforms after the Council of State Governments released its study of Michigan in 2013.
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As the cost of crime and punishment continues to rise, it’s time for Michigan to take a hard look at the rate of return on Department of Corrections spending and decide whether it’s wise to keep those dollars locked up behind bars.
Michigan lawmakers are reviewing intriguing legislation focused on revamping local parole and probation systems so that those who commit minor crimes can be rehabilitated before they are convicted of an offense that sends them to prison.
The Michigan Department of Corrections soaks up the largest chunk of the state’s general fund budget, spending about $2 billion of the state’s $10-billion general fund to house and supervise nearly 50,000 inmates.
Incarceration has become the norm despite clear evidence that many nonviolent offenders can be held accountable and supervised more effectively through alternatives such as drug courts and job reporting centers.
As an unabashed conservative and a person of faith, I find my answers to questions of crime and punishment to be less than dogmatic.
Michigan should follow the trend of most other states by reforming corrections and sentencing guidelines, which are currently inconsistent.
With Michigan’s correctional system consuming more and more taxpayer dollars every day, the time is right for a key fiscal question: “How can we get the most from our investment in public safety?”
Michigan’s state policymakers are looking at a major area in need of reform where almost all of them agree about its problems, and have started a process to come up with solutions: Criminal justice sentencing.
Article I of the Michigan Constitution states that government is charged with the essential task of protecting the security of our citizens.
When I first came to the Legislature in 2009, I never imagined that changing our corrections system would be one of my foremost priorities as a state representative.
Picture this: Jim pleads guilty to robbery in County A and is sentenced to nine to 20 years in prison. The parole board releases him when he has served nine. Bob, who has a similar prior record, pleads guilty to a similar robbery in County B. His sentence is 15-35 years.
In 1998, Michigan designed and adopted the Michigan Sentencing Guideline system to assist the legal field of judges, lawyers, prosecutors, parole and probation agents and the public at large in providing a mechanism to address sentencing consistency and proportionality of convicted felons.
The Michigan Law Revision Commission (MLRC) today received a report from the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center summarizing the findings of a study that could lead to improvements in the state’s sentencing guidelines and savings to Michigan taxpayers.
More felony sentences in Michigan are resulting in jail or prison time. In 2012, 76% of felony sentences led to time behind bars, compared to 70% in 2008.
Michigan has started a much-needed review of its criminal sentencing guidelines — one that will hopefully chart a path for more efficient use of the state’s limited resources.
State lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder are considering the first comprehensive prison sentencing reforms since their predecessors got tough on crime 15 years ago.