Problems: Michigan has struggled to curb corrections spending over the last 10 years. From 1998-2008, state-funded corrections spending increased by almost 60%: from $1.3 billion to $2 billion. Spending on corrections is such a large share of the state budget that in 2008, one in three state employees worked for the Michigan Department of Corrections. This has become such a problem because of Michigan’s high crime rate, and in turn, high incarceration rate.
Solutions: Michigan State Legislature launched the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative (MPRI) in 2003, which was designed to aid with rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders into society. It expanded statewide in 2008. In addition, public officials initiated bipartisan efforts that eventually helped close eight prisons.
In early 2017, Governor Rick Snyder signed a bipartisan package of 18 bills with hopes to slow the revolving door of recidivism by modernizing the previously outdated parole and probation policies. The package establishes a maximum of 30 days' of incarceration for parolees who commit technical violations, as well as a Parole Sanction Certainty Program that standardizes consequences for parole violations and allows judges more autonomy with determining parole, among other reforms.
Results: Post-2007 preliminary figures from the Michigan Department of Corrections showed that parolees released through the MPRI were returning to prison 33% less frequently than similar offenders who do not participate in the program. This reduction in revocations to prison opened up bed space, decreased the number of state-operated corrections facilities, and reduced operating costs, saving taxpayers $120 million. These savings were allocated to create recidivism reduction programs and implement better community supervision programs, resources that hold offenders accountable and help them become productive, law-abiding citizens.
For more on Michigan’s criminal justice reform efforts, visit the Governor’s webpage on the issue found here.