Michigan has been at the forefront of ‘criminal justice reform’, which is newspeak for prison population reduction. In just a few years, Michigan has driven the MDoC prison population down 18%. Democrats love criminal justice reform because it gets one of their major constituencies back on the streets, and voting. Republicans love criminal justice reform because it cuts prison spending, which has become a bottomless pit with all the various mandates. Both of these views are decidedly near term.
The question for non criminal Michigan residents is longer term: will crime rates rise as more prisoners spend less time incarcerated and more time in your neighborhood?
A study just released by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics undermines the case for criminal justice reforms intended to reduce prison populations. This study contradicts previous studies which showed much lower rates of recidivism, probably because it better tracks released prisoners who have moved to other states and also looks at a longer time frame.
This BJS study followed 67,966 state prisoners released in 2005, in 30 states, over the 9 year period following their release. This was a statistically representative sample (16.8%) of the 404,638 prisoners released that year in those 30 states. The BJS study included 2,603 Michigan individuals; sampled from the 12,177 releases from MDoC custody during 2005.
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 sentences2. Allow ‘use of firearms’ sentences to be served concurrently with the underlying crime sentences for the first time3. 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