News | Corrections spending | Investing in prevention | March 10, 2012

By Anika Fassia, policy analyst with the Michigan League for Human Services, guest column, Bridge magazine

We are all familiar with the argument that you can spend a little upfront to change your car’s oil or you can wind up with a big bill later to rebuild your engine. We should be mindful of that advice when it comes to our state budget. A full quarter of Michigan’s general fund is spent on corrections.

That impacts us all by shifting resources away from the public structures that provide education, and health and employment opportunities that lead to greater economic security and mobility for all.

While Michigan has been noted nationally for lowering recidivism rates, the decreases in the prison population and staff have not offset the increasing costs of health care and mental health services for prisoners, and insurance and retirement benefits for staff.

The number of inmates has declined by 8,513 since 2007, and staffing has been reduced by more than 3,900 employees in the last 10 years, yet costs continue to rise.

Read>> To reduce incarceration, invest more in education