Michigan Governor Signs New Criminal Justice Reform Bills

Michigan criminal justice overhauls – long overdue, or a waste of time?


Reducing recidivism among the former prison inmates in Michigan has long been a goal of lawmakers and politicians in our state. However, wanting something and actually being able to achieve it are often very different things. So when our Governor said that he planned to reform the criminal justice system in Michigan, replacing outdated and unsuccessful laws with ones that made more sense for everyone, many people shrugged their shoulders. After all, talk is cheap.


It appears, however, that the Governor may have come through on his promise of ‘smart justice’ for Michigan. A new 18-bill package, spearheaded by Senator John Proos and signed into law by Governor Snyder, overhauls many aspects of our criminal justice system. In particular, the new laws aim to drastically reduce recidivism and also overhaul Michigan’s probation and parole laws.


Senator Proos has referred, on a number of occasions, to Michigan’s corrections system as a ‘revolving door’. People are shuffled in as inmates where they serve time, only to be released without any help for how to settle into a productive life. As a result, ill equipped and often shunned, they return to the only life they knew – crime– which puts them right back where they started. And so it goes, around and around. These new laws aim to break that cycle.


The only portion of the initial package that didn’t make it through the House was the bill incentivizing employers to hire felony parolees. Had the bill made it, the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development would have been required to establish a grant program that offers financial incentives to employers who hire people on probation or parole.


Under our new law, there will be more data collection, increased reporting, and greater coordination between various state departments.


Additionally, there is now a maximum of only 30 days’ incarceration for parolees who commit technical violations. Also, prisoners aged 18 to 22  must be offered rehabilitation programs designed for youth rehabilitation, which the Michigan Department of Corrections will be tasked with creating.


In addressing the new laws, Governor Snyder said, “We’ve done some great things over the past several years like specialty courts, other ways to find people that may have a mental health issue or something else that are better treated than being put into a correctional institution. This is another big step to say as they come through that process, how do we help them get on the path to success?”


The Michigan Department of Corrections has long been under scrutiny for everything from sexual abuse by guards, bad food and maggot infestation to overcrowding. 2016 saw initiatives introduced that aimed to overhaul the state’s prison system, and 2017 has brought with it new laws crafted for that purpose. The process is likely to be a long and arduous one, with bumps in the road along the way. However, we Michiganders are used to bumps in the road, right? This is why an experienced criminal defense attorney can make all the difference when dealing with a legal system still undergoing transformation.


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.

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