VIDEO: Criminal justice reform in Michigan

VIDEO: Criminal justice reform in Michigan
October 26, 2016 Detroit Public TV

House Bill 4138 Criminal justice reform in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Correction’s budge this year tops two billion dollars. The state spends about 35-thousand dollars a year for each of the 42-thousand inmates behind prison walls.

The costs are high, especially compared to other state in the Great Lakes region. Now politicians are calling for change.

Prisoners commonly overstay their minimum sentences. Reform advocates say longer terms do not lead to better outcomes like less recidivism, that is, how often offenders break the law again and end back in prison.

New legislation wants to get more offenders out, sooner. Depending on the statistics you chose to look at, recidivism is around 30 percent in Michigan. But if you look at statistics some law enforcement agencies use, the numbers can get a lot higher, up to 70 percent. It gets complicated but most agree Michigan’s recidivism rate has come down, at least with our state prisons.

While there will always be repeat offenders, it looks like reform has bipartisan support in the legislature and the Governor.

On the political left, reformers want to remedy the effects of mass incarceration, especially in the African American community.

On the political right, the view is the economic costs are unsustainable and from a Christian perspective, as reform advocate Craig DeRoche notes, “the Bible calls on Christians to remember those in prison as if you were there yourself.”

Detroit Public Television looks at House Bill 4138, called “Presumptive Parole”, and others have title it, “Safe and Smart Parole Reform”.

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