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January 22, 2009

New proposals from CSG's Justice Center for how Michigan can cut correction costs

As some readers may know, The Council of State Governments has a Justice Center project called "Justice Reinvestment" (website here), which produces for states a set of reports and analyses of the fiscal and public safety impact of criminal justice policies.  As detailed in this new piece from the Detroit Free Press and in this official press release, this project has just produced a bunch of new materials for the good folks of Michigan.  The newspaper article is headlined, "Study: Michigan could save millions with early release: Yearlong analysis cites high costs, harsh punishments," and here are excerpts:

The State of Michigan could save $262 million in prison costs by 2015 by bringing parole policies in line with other states – and releasing thousands of prisoners earlier – according to a yearlong analysis of crime and punishment conducted by national policy center.

The analysis by the Justice Center at the Council of State Governments, presented at the state Capitol today, found that Michigan suffers from high rates of violent crime, has fewer police officers and lower conviction rates than other states, but tends to imprison convicted felons longer.

The key recommendation, to require most prisoners to be released after serving 120% of their minimum sentence, was endorsed by Republican and Democratic lawmakers and representatives of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who have been working with the center on the analysis.

Also included in the group’s potential remedies are beefed-up law enforcement and crime lab capabilities, and increased training and job placement for offenders and disconnected young people. Those initiatives would presumably be paid for with savings in the prison system, especially the accelerated parole of convicted criminals.

More background on the Justice Reinvestment project in Michigan can be found here, and the reports referenced in this above article can be accessed at this link.

January 22, 2009 at 03:37 PM | Permalink


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Parole review in Michigan comes at the minimum, and, at present, no more often than annually thereafter, if release is denied at the minimum. In practical terms, if this proposal goes into effect, and is applied across the board, inmates serving minimum sentences less than 5 years will be paroled at their first review. Those serving longer minimums will be flopped at least once. This is good news for sex offenders, who typically get paroled at about a 10% rate (meaning they typically have to serve seven years longer than the minimum before it is more likely that they have been paroled, than it is that they are still incacerated), and bad news for drug offenders, now typically paroled at a rate of 70-80%.

Posted by: Greg Jones | Jan 23, 2009 5:39:13 PM

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