Governor Snyder's 'Smart Justice' Improves The Risk/Reward Payoff For Armed Criminals
Michigan House Bills 4419/4420, Proposed Substitute H-3, gut Michigan’s 25 year old mandatory minimum sentences for crimes committed with firearms. Introduced by Republican Representative Kurt Heise (R-20th) of Plymouth and co-authored by 28 bleeding heart Republicans (4) and Democrats (24), these bills:
- 1. Convert Michigan’s long standing mandatory 2/5/10 year minimum sentences for criminals using firearms into maximum sentences
- 2. Allow ‘use of firearms’ sentences to be served concurrently with the underlying crime sentences for the first time
- 3. Allow prisoners serving ‘use of firearms’ sentences to be paroled prior to completing even these sentences
Now the proponents of ‘Smart Justice’ are telling the public that their effort will:
- – reduce the number of ‘non violent prisoners’ held in Michigan prisons
- – reduce the price Michigan pays for incarceration
As you might imagine, this is quite attractive to Michigan politicians who just got slapped down on Proposal 1. The Michigan Department of Corrections consumes $ 2 billion in General Fund revenues every year. Roughly 20% of the total General Fund.
Governor Snyder kicked off this issue back in early March with his Special Message to the Legislature on Public Safety. The primary public advocate driving his ‘Smart Justice’ sentencing reforms is one Barbara Levine, the Assistant Director of Research and Policy at the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Policy and one of Governor Snyder’s appointees on Michigan’s new Criminal Justice Policy Commission. She just released a massive study titled “10,000 fewer Michigan prisoners: Strategies to reach the goal”. This could produce up to a 23% drop in prison spending, something on the order of $ 450 million a year. A lot of new Lansing office buildings with views and more idle train cars in Owosso. A Pavlovian metronome irresistibly beckoning our state politicians.
But how much would it cost Michigan residents in crime taxes?