Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Michigan Governor Seeks To Shift Criminal Costs

From the State to the People of course.

The Detroit Free Press: Can-Michigan Free Up Cash By Freeing Up Prisoners?
Is this a bad time to bring back good time?

Gov. Jennifer Granholm and her administration's Department of Corrections have made the reinstatement of time off for good behavior for Michigan prisoners a key reform measure in the state's budget plan for 2010-11.

Under Granholm's proposal, the sentences of about 5,600 prisoners would be recalculated, making them eligible for release within six months. Another 1,900 could be placed in halfway houses, with a combined savings to the prison system of about $130 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

But enacting legislation to bring back good time -- which Michigan phased out from 1978-1998 -- will be daunting.

It begins with getting 75% of the members in both the state House and Senate to agree to repeal an anti-good time ballot proposal overwhelmingly approved by state voters in 1978
The $130 Million in savings to the state of course does not include any setoffs for the costs to be incurred by the citizenry by allowing dangerous prisoners early release so they can get out and commit more crimes. Without a doubt the policy will lead to more crime and more costs on the victims of crime, which is why it was ended by a ballot proposal.

Granholm said her goal is to bring Michigan's overall incarceration rate, still above the national average, in line with that of other states, especially in the upper Midwest. Reinstating good time, and a companion plan to move nearly 2,000 other inmates into halfway houses or tether programs as they near their release dates, would save $130 million in 2011, Granholm said.
The problem is while she may bring the incarceration rate in line with other states that will not reduce the state's crime rate to becoming in line with other states and will likely lead it to increase. Indeed, Michigan has the highest violent crime rate in the midwest. Reducing criminals in prison to the same level as the Midwest overall without reducing the crime rate by the same proportion will by simple logic lead to an increase in crimes. Especially that even now, 48% of those in Michigan's prison system are back in prison within 2 years either for violations of parole or for new offences.

While on paper having the state save $130 Million to drop its prison population to match other states in the Midwest sounds laudable, this completely ignores the costs, which will exceed $130 million to be imposed on the residents of the state at the hands of the early released criminals.

There's a reason crime dropped as prison populations climbed - less criminals had access to their victims as they were locked up.

Granholm wants to end this trend to make the budget look good, to keep liberals happy with their beleif in the failed "root causes of crime" ideology and to increase the felon vote for the Democrats (In Michigan felons can vote, just not while they're incarcerated).

As usual Granholm's budget cuts are designed to hurt the citizens the most to make them more amenable to tax increases - public safety cuts, education cuts, corrections cuts - all key functions of government responsibility, not the softer areas that could be cut without much impact on the citizenry.

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