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Detroit Legal Blog

Reducing Michigan’s Prison Population

Oct 26, 2015, by Maurice Davis in Criminal Defense, Legal Blog

Since Governor Snyder called for a smart justice plan in 2012, there has yet to be a serious reduction in the number of Michigan’s inmates, which was one of the Governor’s primary goals. To help move this goal forward, a non-partisan and non-profit group called Citizens Alliance for Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS) released a report this June offering concrete suggestions on how Michigan might reduce its prison population by 10,000 without adversely impacting public safety.

How CAPPS Seeks to Reduce Michigan’s Prison Population

The State spends over $2 billion a year to incarcerate its 43,000 prisoners. For this reason, many policymakers see a reduction in the number of inmates as the key to unlocking funds for reforming the criminal justice system. Should all of the CAPPS suggestions be put into place, the State could save $250 million per year.

The CAPPS suggestions include an increase in community-based sanctions for the 6,000 or so convicts who enter prison each year for sentences of two years or less. The group also seeks to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18m, establishing a judicial review for all cases in which minors are treated as adults.

CAPPS also recommends the establishment of presumptive parole, which would grant supervised release to prisoners who have met the minimum sentence length for their crime, and who show little sign of recidivism.

Renewed Efforts From Michigan’s Legislature

In early October, the Michigan House of Representatives passed HB 4138, which largely mirrors the presumptive parole proposal outlined by CAPPS. The bill gained support in the house on the idea that it will save the state money and help rehabilitated criminals salvage their lives.

The bill allows for the release on parole of criminals who have sat out their minimum sentences. But it excludes convicts who have committed capital offenses, who have pending felony charges, or who have been denied by the parole board.

Although the bill’s supporters insist that the presumptive parole program would not release violent criminals back into the streets, a group of prosecutors and county sheriffs held a press conference denouncing the bill soon after it passed. The law enforcement and prosecutor lobby has successfully blocked corrections reforms in the past.

Data From Michigan’s Department of Corrections Shows Progress

During a July 2015 interview, Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington reported that the recidivism rate for the State’s prisoners had fallen from 45% to 29% this year.

By providing vocational job training and rehabilitative programs during the inmates’ incarceration, the department of corrections has given ex-convicts a chance of integrating society upon their release instead of falling back into crime to make a living.

The recent decrease in Michigan’s recidivism rate shows that bills such as HB 4138 can effectively reduce the prison population without making the streets more dangerous.

The Davis Law Group is dedicated to defending the rights and freedoms of people who have been charged with crimes in and around Detroit. If you’re facing criminal charges, you can call Michigan criminal defense lawyer Maurice Davis today for a free and confidential consultation of your case today a (313) 818-3238.