For good reason, a bi-partisan effort to reform Michigan's criminal justice system is gaining momentum in Lansing. There are more than 43-thousand prisoners behind bars. At a cost of $35-thousand a year, it is the state's biggest growth industry. Statistics also show that Michigan houses its prisoners longer than the national average. But lawmakers must tackle three big questions:
- How do you reform the system?
- Who gets out first?
- And how do you make public safety priority #1!
State Senator John Proos, a Republican from St. Joseph, said it best:
"It's time for us to take action with smarter justice reforms."
Proos is the lead sponsor on a package of 20 bills aimed at reducing repeat offenses and reforming parole guidelines. He recently noted:
"Half of our prison population is made up of parole and probation violators."
Many in the system have been locked up for non-violent offenses.
Some of the proposed reforms include:
- Modify prison time for parolees who have committed technical violations of probation.
- "Sure & Swift" courts to deal with parole violators.
- Allow judges to shorten sentences due to good behavior.
- Revise requirements for expulsion of students.
- And, House 17 - 22 year olds in the same facility --- separated from older inmates.
The Michigan House has already passed a package of reform bills. Now it's the Senate's turn. We commend the legislative bi-partisan effort in both houses and urge state lawmakers to send a criminal justice reform package to the Governor's desk soon.
Smart justice is good justice!
I'm Mike Murri, Vice President & General Manager
Broadcast: May 12 - 15, 2016