Senate unveils bipartisan criminal justice reform package
Sen. John Proos and Senate bill sponsors announced a bipartisan legislative package last week that lawmakers say will reform, re-establish and rebuild a criminal justice system focused on lowering recidivism and keeping Michigan safe.
“Michigan’s criminal justice system needs modernizing. We must focus our rehabilitation on parolees and probationers as half of our prison population is made up of parole and probation violators,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for the Judiciary and Corrections budgets. “It’s time for us to take action with smarter justice reforms that help break the cycle of incarceration and ensure that the safety of the public is always the top priority.”
Many components of the package are designed to reduce recidivism, including updating the Swift and Sure probation sanctioning program and enacting better ways to track and evaluate recidivism data.
“Of the 42,000 individuals currently incarcerated in the Michigan Department of Corrections, there are approximately 38,000 that will eventually be returning to our communities,” said Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield. “This comprehensive reform package gives offenders the best shot at success and reintegration.”
Proos said, “With a smarter, data-driven approach, Michigan can better measure what works best to efficiently and effectively rehabilitate prisoners. Michigan now has several specialty courts, such as drug courts and sobriety courts, which help reduce costs and achieve better outcomes for everyone. This effort for restorative justice and better treatment of prisoners by focusing on specific issues reduces recidivism and helps offenders to return to a normal life.”
Among other issues addressed in the bill package are:
• Expediting medical commutation hearings;
• Allowing judges to shorten a probation term as a result of good behavior;
• Encouraging partnerships with outside volunteers beneficial to prisoners;
• Requesting the parole board to issue a quarterly report on reasons for denials;
• Utilizing a consent calendar for juveniles; and
• Providing a tax credit for employing a probationer or parolee.
“Our goal is to reduce the cost of our criminal justice system while also helping break the cycle of crime,” Proos said “Refocusing our system on rehabilitation and reform of prisoners is good for public safety and a smarter use of taxpayer dollars.”