The Grand Rapids Business Journal recently addressed the high cost of Michigan’s corrections policies. The Journal interviewed Daniel Heyns, head of the Michigan Department of Corrections, who had important things to say about the high cost of Michigan’s punitive sentencing policies.
Unfortunately, Heyns got it wrong about the role current parole policies play in driving up Michigan’s corrections costs. Michigan keeps thousands of prisoners locked up for months and years past the time they could be safely released — at a staggering cost to taxpayers. CAPPS has recommended both sentencing and parole reforms that would reduce corrections costs by safely reducing the prisoner population. (See CAPPS’s 10 Point Plan by clicking here: http://www.capps-mi.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/CAPPS-10-Point-Plan-4.26.131.pdf) Here’s the Journal article:
LANSING — Despite a declining prison population, the average Michigan prisoner is spending more time behind bars — at significant taxpayer expense.
Michigan inmates spend on average 4.3 years in prison, while the national average is 2.9 years, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trust. The disparity is even greater among violent criminals: 7.6 years on average in Michigan compared to five years nationally.
Some experts argue longer prison stints do little to deter crime or reduce recidivism and therefore only swell the Corrections Department budget.
Corrections Director Daniel Heyns said the major source of the problem is sentencing.
“Traditionally, Michigan has kept people longer,” Heyns said. “We have a very harsh, more punitive model of corrections, but the unfortunate truth about that is it costs a lot of money.”
Corrections has streamlined its parole process, Heyns said, but he argued length of stay, at its core, is determined by sentencing.
Read>> Longer sentences fuel big budget for Michigan prisons