Public safety, reduced costs keys to smart justice

Published 10:02 am Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced a Special Message to the Legislature on Criminal Justice, which proposes several criminal justice and law enforcement reforms.

I look forward to continuing to work with the governor on smart reforms to improve the cost-effectiveness of our criminal justice system and help break the cycle of crime.

During my time as the Senate chair of the Corrections and Judiciary budgets, I have proposed savings of more than $350 million during the last five years.

While we look to be more efficient with state spending, we must remember that a strong law enforcement presence is key to preventing crime and keeping our communities safe.

First and foremost, addressing criminal justice begins with honoring and providing support for victims of crime. The greatest cost of crime is the impact on the victims, their families and the entire community.

We must make smart decisions about how we invest tax dollars in public safety and in the rehabilitation of those who commit crimes. I have worked for years on initiatives like the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program and our drug-treatment courts to reduce crime, drug use and jail time. We have seen outstanding results in Michigan with these endeavors and I am encouraged that the governor is embracing them.

I have also long supported programs to identify jobs that are available in our communities, tailor the prison programs to fit those needs and connect employers with individuals coming out of our prison system. In the Corrections budget, we incentivized our prisons to re-focus on rehabilitation of prisoners through job training and preparing prisoners for parole.

I want to praise the governor for highlighting a new law designed to help encourage employment and success when prisoners re-enter society. Parolees in Michigan can now receive a “Certificate of Employability” if they successfully complete a vocational skills program, maintain an exemplary conduct record and complete a nationally recognized job skills assessment.

By working together, I am confident that we can enact comprehensive smart justice reforms that help reduce crime and costs while also ensuring the safety of our communities.

Residents can see the governor’s message at


Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents Southwest Michigan.