Laura SagerBy Laura Sager, Associate Director, Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending

Bridge Magazine: News and Analysis from The Center for Michigan, June 14, 2012

Michigan taxpayers spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on prisons than public safety requires. How? By keeping people locked up far longer than we used to, than other states do and than is necessary to prevent recidivism. Every additional month, one person serves costs roughly $2,800.

In a new study, the Pew Center on the States reviewed people released from prison in 35 states from 1990-2009. Michigan stands out.

Nationally, average time served for all crimes increased 36 percent; for Michigan it increased 79 percent. Nationally, the time served for assaultive offenses increased 37 percent; for Michigan it was 97 percent.

Most striking is that Michigan currently has the longest length of stay of all the states. In 2009, overall, Michigan prisoners served nearly 17 months longer than the national average. Those convicted of assaultive crimes served 30 months longer — 50 percent above the national average and two to three years more than “tough” states such as Georgia, Texas, Florida and California.

Read>> Michigan prison costs far exceed benchmarks