Last Updated: October 23. 2009 1:00AM
Keep paroled inmates out of prisonIdea: Adequately fund the Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative and limit prison terms for parolees who are recommitted for technical violations to one year.
Why: Prison spending represents a fifth of Michigan's General Fund budget, up from a twentieth in 1983. Employees within the Department of Corrections count for one in three state employees. Michigan is one of four states that spends more on prisons than higher education. The Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative has proved to decrease recidivism by parolees and should be fully implemented to generate better savings. And technical violations of parole -- compared with committing new felonies -- unnecessarily refill Michigan's prisons with inmates for long periods of time.
Benefits: Fully implementing the prisoner re-entry initiative would cut recidivism 10 percent and save $40 million annually. Limiting felons to a one-year return to prison for technical violations of parole before being re-paroled would save an estimated $14 million a year.
How: Continued budget support for Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative. To this point, limited resources have required that MPRI focus on those inmates who are closest to being paroled. The most successful model for re-entry would include preparing an inmate for release the minute he arrives in custody. Inmates would also benefit from increased access to educational programs including GED and career prep classes. And amend the Code of Criminal Procedure, Public Act 175 of 1927 to limit returns for technical parole violators.
Obstacle: Victims rights and other groups prefer offenders spend more time behind bars than rehabilitating themselves outside of prison. Some question the cost of funding parole services when other items of the budget, like education, are getting cut.
Source: Detroit Regional Chamber