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Op-ed Placement

Time for Justice Reform in Michigan

06/28/2016
Originally Published in The Detroit News on 6/28/16.

The 19th century novelist Victor Hugo once said that there’s nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Justice reform is clearly just such an idea, as evidenced by the Michigan state Senate’s unanimous passage this month of a 20-bill overhaul package designed to reduce recidivism and save state taxpayer dollars.

The legislation, being championed by state Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, would work to reduce parole and probation revocations, standardize the definition of recidivism and offer incentives to people employing parolees.

These reforms are chiefly focused on improving public safety and reducing recidivism in Michigan—which, after all, must always remain the first and foremost consideration in justice reform. At the same time, they are designed to reduce the cost of corrections in Michigan, which spends $95.84 per offender per day. That’s nearly $35,000 a year each.

The reason so much emphasis in the reform package is being placed on reducing recidivism and reforming probation and parole is simple: Almost half of Michigan’s state prison population of 42,000 comprise parole and probation violators, and of the 42,000 in prison today, about 38,000 will eventually return to society.