By Peter Luke, Bridge Magazine correspondent

News | Corrections spending | February 7, 2012

Round numbers can provoke course corrections because they are easier to understand and, if large enough, shock the system. Here are a couple: 50,000 and $2 billion.

The first is the inmate population barrier breached at the Michigan Department of Corrections in 2006. The department’s budget first exceeded the latter figure in fiscal year 2008.

But, after years of criticism for vacuuming up growing percentages of a shrinking general fund, significant progress actually is being made in reducing the number of felons incarcerated by the state. Not nearly as much progress, however, is being made to wring savings from the smaller inmate counts.

Read>> Capitol conundrum: Fewer inmates, same high costs