2017 is looking to be the year of parole and prison reform here in Michigan. Almost half of the 52 bills the Senate reviewed in their last session were to do with prison and parole reform. We wanted to share with you the issues that some of those bills are hoping to address in the future.
Republican Senator Rick Jones, who was a sheriff in Eaton County, MI for years before pursuing a career in politics. He was the primary supporter of several of these bills. In statements made to the Senate about his bills, he said that the primary reasons were to make the system better, reduce recidivism, and save the state a lot of money. Another focus he hopes the bills will address is helping inmates to get settled back into civilian life successfully after their release. “We want people put out that do not recidivate that find jobs and return as a citizen.” he explained.
One of Senator Jones’ bills aims at allowing prison inmates access to a program that is currently restricted to jails – earning time off for good behavior if they complete certain programs or refrained from bad behavior while in prison. This could include certain sobriety programs, anger management programs, and also schooling to learn a trade or get a high school diploma. Michigan used to have “good time credit” in prisons, but that was eliminated by our “Truth In Sentencing” law passed when John Engler was the governor.
Other bills introduced by Democratic Senators Rebekah Warren and Bert Johnson, focused on rehabilitation for prison inmates. The goal, according to Warren, would be to rehabilitate inmates and prepare them for a productive life outside prison once they are released. As a bonus, the changes would also save the government money.
One of Senator Warren’s bills aims to donate a portion of the crime victims fund to child assessment centers here in Michigan. Another bill hopes to establish a county jail bed savings program, which would allow counties that chose to participate to house eligible inmates in their facilities. This would mean that inmates housed there could be housed in a less restrictive environment. Ideally, if enough counties participates it would mean that the state could close a prison, which would mean significant savings.
Other bills introduced hope to discontinue services to parole absconders and also changing the penalties that probationers must submit to when they have committed a technical, or minor probation violation. All in all, there are some interesting bills headed for the Michigan House for consideration.
The Michigan prison system, Michigan Department of Corrections, has long been under scrutiny for everything from bad food to overcrowding. 2016 saw initiatives aimed at overhauling the state’s prison system, but the process will be a long and arduous one.
Until then, if you or a loved one are in need of legal assistance in Michigan, whether you’ve been accused of a sex crime, a drug or weapons related crime, or assault, we are here to help you. The highly skilled defense attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have spent decades helping Michigan residents who have been accused of all types of crimes. We are here to help you too. Call us immediately at 866 766 5245. An attorney is standing by to take your call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.