By Tom Travis
Over the past 40 years, Michigan’s prison population has swelled by 71%, with state spending on prisons and inmates also increasing from $ 330 million to $ 2.4 billion, an average of 44 billion. $ 000 per prisoner per year.
These are among the facts that The Michigan Justice Advocacy (MJA) hopes to highlight at an event held on Saturday, October 9 to garner support and awareness for Michigan Senate Bill 649. The bill seeks to change the so-called “right time” policy. for the Michigan prison population.
The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Higher Quality of Life Church, 5601 N. Saginaw St.
Saturday’s event will feature a bounce house, kids’ activities, vendors, and food. Local community organizations will be on site including: drug addiction services, health services, Flint soup kitchen and church groups.
The Good Times policy is a system of credits available to incarcerated citizens who demonstrate that they are changing their lives and showing measurable change in behavior. The bill provides an incentive for those who understand the mistakes they have made in the past and strive to improve themselves, thereby showing the fact that they are being rehabilitated, according to a website of the MJA.
The MJA website goes on to promote “rehabilitation rather than mere punishment, lower recidivism rates mean safer citizens during unavoidable release and potential savings of $ 4 billion from the services department budget. corrections over the next five years.
In 1978, the Good Time policy was suppressed by a voting initiative, Michigan Justice Advocacy Campaign Director Rich Griffin explained in an interview at a downtown coffee shop Friday.
History of the “good times” policy
Since the removal of the “right time” policy 40 years ago, Michigan’s prison population has swelled by 71% and the state now spends more than $ 2 billion more on inmates, Griffin said. In 1978 Michigan was spending $ 330 million; now Michigan spends $ 2.4 billion on prisons and inmates, according to Griffin.
“3.9% of our state budget goes to corrections, with the majority of that spending going to operating 29 facilities across the state. (The national average is only 2.5% of state budgets). More than 25 percent of the state’s more than 44,000 employees work for MI’s correctional service.
The average cost of custody per incarcerated citizen is approximately $ 44,000 and increases by approximately $ 500 per year. As MI taxpayers, we expect to spend almost $ 216 million to update and maintain these facilities over the next 5 years. According to the Michigan Justice Initiative’s “Good Time” website.
How Michigan ranks compared to other states
The same website continued, “Michigan is one of six states that does not have a good time policy or earned time credits and, as such, is out of step with the rest of the country. 31 states and the federal government offer incarcerated citizens a way to earn some reduction in sentence based on their behavior. This means that two thirds of the country recognize and encourage positive steps towards rehabilitation. “
“In 1998, to obtain federal grants for the incarceration of violent offenders and the truth in sentencing (VOI / TIS) which required more imprisonment for serious offenses, the state enacted a law on the “Truth in the penalty” more severe than that required to benefit from federal funding.
The state set 100 percent of the minimum sentence (instead of 85 percent) the time served requirement before being eligible for parole and applied it to all sentences (instead of sentences only for violence). Michigan subsequently received nearly $ 110 million in VOI / TIS grants for the expansion of Prison 18 The Sentencing Project.
“The state eliminated community residential programs that had transferred low-risk individuals to community correctional placements prior to parole eligibility.
He replaced sentencing guidelines set by the judiciary with more restrictive laws that imposed sentence lengths within narrow grid ranges for (1) probation or presumptive prison, (2) choice of type of sanction in the range, or (3) prison with presumption, ”according to the JLA website.
Michigan State Senator Jeff Irwin (D-95) of the Washtenaw County area introduced Bill 649 to the Senate in September; he is now part of the Judicial Commission. In 2019, a group of incarcerated Michigan citizens began drafting the Michigan Prisoner Rehabilitation Credit Act (MPRCA).
These incarcerated citizens with the help of family members contacted all lawmakers and activists in the state. In January 2020, the language of the petition was approved for printing. In March 2020, with the COVID-19 outbreak and an executive order banning gatherings and in-person events, momentum to get petition signatures was “stifled,” according to the MJA website.
Sign the petition
In the fall of 2020, an injunction was filed and the state approved the online collection of petition signatures. In September 2020, the MJA was formed. Those interested in signing the petition can access this link.
GEV Editor-in-chief Tom Travis can be reached at [email protected]