PROOS: Corrections, judiciary budgets focus on better outcomes

Published 8:46 am Wednesday, June 13, 2018

As chairman of the Senate subcommittees for the Judiciary and Department of Corrections budgets, I am proud that both budgets for next year are focused on protecting the public and improving efficiency.

We were able to keep our communities safe, reinvest in important job-training opportunities and continue support for the state’s groundbreaking criminal justice reforms.

The fact that Michigan’s prison population fell below 40,000 last year for the first time since 1993 — and continues to fall — is a great illustration of the positive impact our efforts to reduce recidivism are having.

The fiscal year 2019 DOC budget is $18 million less than the governor’s recommendation and includes $2 million for a new enhanced food technology program with assistance from the Michigan Restaurant Association to help train prisoners for jobs in the food service industry.

This innovative program gives us an opportunity to provide valuable on-the-job skills to low-risk prisoners to help them meet workforce needs when they re-enter society.

The Judiciary FY 2019 budget includes a 1.3 percent increase from the current year’s budget. It would fund needed technology upgrades, increase funding for problem-solving courts and maintain funding for the Swift and Sure Sanctioning Program.

Importantly, we will continue to provide our courts with the resources they need to provide justice, protect the public and invest in lower-cost alternatives like community dispute resolution centers.

Boosting support for specialty courts for mental health and addiction will benefit the entire state. These courts help reduce crime and benefit both society and offenders by addressing underlying issues, such as drug and alcohol abuse.

With the Judiciary and DOC budgets, we were able to save taxpayer dollars and continue to invest in effective, evidence-based programs that are already working to achieve better outcomes in our communities and those in the criminal justice system — which is good news for everyone.

JOHN PROOS, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties.