Archived Story

Snyder touts ‘smart justice’

Published 6:00pm Wednesday, March 7, 2012

LANSING — Michigan must attack crime through “smart justice” that recognizes the connection between enforcement, prevention and economic opportunity, Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday.
Initiatives are outlined in Snyder’s special message to the legislature on public safety, which he released at a Flint news conference.
The message proposes structural reforms in the law enforcement and criminal justice systems and also insures that Michigan’s firefighters and first responders are prepared.
“It’s time to reinvent public safety in Michigan,” Snyder said.
“Our state can’t reach its full potential until we tackle the problem of violent crime in our cities. It devastates families, leaves neighborhoods in fear and robs our state of its economic vitality. But we can overcome these challenges through a collaborative, comprehensive and long-term approach.
“By moving forward with a system of ‘smart justice,’ we will hold chronic offenders accountable for their actions, bring peace of mind to community residents, help to break the cycles that perpetuate crime and unleash Michigan’s economic growth.
“The best way to insure fulfilling futures for our children is to provide them with safe communities. Working together across all levels of the public and private sectors, we’ll make sure the next generation of Michiganders has the rewarding opportunities it deserves.”
While reported crime rates are down throughout most of the state, FBI data shows Flint, Detroit, Saginaw and Pontiac rank among the nation’s top 10 most violent cities. Several of Snyder’s initiatives specifically are geared to these four communities though they may be expanded to other areas over time.
Violent crime in these cities affects local residents and citizens statewide. It hampers economic investment and the ability to attract talent, discourages tourism and drives up insurance rates.
A recent study shows homicides in these four cities cost Michigan taxpayers more than $1.6 billion.
In addition to calling for greater collaboration, Snyder points out that Michigan must put more emphasis on crime prevention and intervention. For example:
• Most prisoners are behind bars directly or indirectly due to substance abuse. An estimated 70 percent to 80 percent of children in foster care are there because their parents are substance abusers, many of whom are incarcerated.
• There is a significant link between domestic violence and sexual assaults. Nationally, 60 percent to 70 percent of rapists commit an average of six sexual assaults and eight additional victimizations, including child abuse and domestic battery.
• Children who don’t regularly attend school are more likely to confront the challenges of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and juvenile delinquency. In 2010-11, Michigan public schools documented nearly 83,500 cases of truancy.
Message highlights
• Secure Cities Partnership: The governor unveiled his Secure Cities Partnership initiative to support law enforcement efforts in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw and the roadways connecting them. Michigan State Police will provide local assistance and coordinate teams of local, state and federal law enforcement officers to direct patrols and provide investigative resources. Snyder recommends that MSP receive an additional $15 million in FY 13 for two trooper recruit schools that will graduate 180 troopers to provide local agencies with the support they need.
• Federal support: The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be active partners in the Secure Cities Partnership. The special agent in charge of the FBI in Michigan will work with Michigan through the federal Safe Streets Initiative and direct resources at the most violent centers of activity within the four cities.
• Economic Vitality Incentive Program: Snyder recommends lawmakers put a priority on the expenditure of $10 million out of the total $25 million Economic Vitality Incentive Program for local public safety.
• Snyder is forming an advisory council that will recommend ways to provide better emergency services statewide with a long-term, sustainable cost model.
• Forensic labs: The governor recommends an additional $5 million in his FY 13 budget for the  Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division to support the hiring of 20 scientists. Additional staffing will help to reduce backlogs and achieve a case turnaround time of 30 days.
• Enhanced parole supervision: Currently, 46 percent of all statewide parolees report to parole offices in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw. The Michigan Department of Corrections will embed a parole officer into each of the local law enforcement agencies that covers these cities.
• CLEAR recommendations: Snyder is tasking the Council on Law Enforcement and Reinvention (CLEAR), which he created last year, to develop long-term solutions technology and establishing police agency training standards.
• Next Generation 911: The governor is directing CLEAR to develop recommendations within six months for implementing Next Generation 911, where users will be able to send texts, photos and videos to dispatchers who can relay the information to emergency responders.
• Flint jail space: Snyder is calling for an additional $4.5 million to ensure Flint has adequate jail space to house offenders.
• Prosecutorial support: The governor recommends an investment of $900,000 for prosecutorial support in distressed cities, with particular focus on Flint.
• Intelligence centers: Snyder will issue an executive order designating the Detroit Southeast Michigan Information and Intelligence Center as a node of the Michigan Intelligence Operations Center. This improves information sharing across all law enforcement agencies and supports evidence-based policing strategies, which helps police predict where crime may occur.
• Preliminary exam reform: Police too often are stuck in a courtroom waiting to see whether a preliminary exam goes forward, rather than being out protecting the public. Snyder is directing CLEAR to develop reforms requiring preliminary exam conferences in which the prosecutor, defendant and defense attorney can discuss the charges and possible plea negotiations.
• Mental health courts: Snyder recommends the state invest $2.1 million to continue the eight pilot mental health courts and create a new one in Saginaw.
• Drug courts: Drug treatment courts address the revolving-door cycle in which drug and alcohol offenders move in and out of the justice system. Snyder proposes a legislative appropriation of $1.25 million to create a high-risk, high-need drug court initiative that expands drug court programming in Genesee, Wayne, Oakland and Saginaw counties.
• Designer drugs: Snyder supports House Bill 5338 and Senate Bill 789 that will allow the Michigan Department of Community Health director to declare a substance as an “imminent danger to the public.”
• Sexual assault and domestic violence: Snyder will issue an executive order designating the Michigan Domestic Violence Treatment and Prevention Board as the Michigan Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Treatment Board.
• Organized retail crime: This is sophisticated theft and fraud conducted by professionals. Snyder will work with lawmakers to target these crimes through statutory changes.
• Human trafficking: Current Michigan law does not adequately address the problem of human trafficking, which often victimizes children. The governor will support legislation that protects victims and goes after the individuals who profit from this crime.
• Senior protection: The abuse of senior citizens is one of the fastest-growing crimes in Michigan. The Senate has passed a package of bills to increase coordination between local and state authorities to expedite investigations, create tougher penalties and implement guardianship reforms. Snyder urges the House to pass the legislation.
• Prescription drug trafficking: The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) maintains a system for monitoring controlled substances dispensed by prescribers.
• Community Ventures: Michigan Economic Development Corp. will launch the Community Ventures initiative, a public-private nonprofit partnership that will hire at least 1,000 structurally unemployed residents from distressed neighborhoods. Initially, it will focus on Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw.
• New paths for young people: To help teens from urban areas realize that promising opportunities exist, the governor recommends that $5 million in the FY 13 budget be used to support programs for teens in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw.
• Removing abandoned buildings: The governor proposes a change in state law to forbid individuals with unpaid taxes or who own blighted properties from buying any more property at auction.
• Truancy: The Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) will place more social workers within the 135 public schools in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw.
• Prisoner re-entry: Inmates who will rejoin society must be equipped with skills so they have alternatives to crime.

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