News | Sentencing | Sentencing commission | February 14, 2012


State Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland, says Michigan needs a sentencing commission to redraft prison sentences so that nonviolent offenders spend less time in Michigan prisons. 

By Ron French, Bridge Magazine

Joe Haveman is about the last person in the State Capitol you’d expect to advocate for softer prison sentences.

The 50-year-old Holland native is a conservative Republican legislator from a conservative Republican district, the kind of pedigree associated with the attitude of locking them up and throwing away the key.

“We tried that,” Haveman noted. “We used to be proud of that around here. But it didn’t work.”

Haveman, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections, is drafting legislation to create a sentencing commission to review the time served for crimes and whether the length of sentences impacts public safety. Numerous states — including GOP-controlled states — have turned to sentencing commissions in recent years in transitioning from being “tough on crime” to “smart on crime.”

Haveman may be an unlikely advocate for sentencing reform, but he is emblematic of efforts under way around the country that are reversing the politics of prison policy.

Read>> An unlikely advocate for review of Michigan prison sentences