“It is unwise to send an individual to jail or prison when an alternative sentence, such as probation with treatment of underlying problems like substance abuse, would better protect our communities at lower cost”
~ Governor Snyder, as reported by the Detroit Free Press
One of the biggest challenges facing those recently released from prison is starting their life again. Last week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder revealed his “smart justice” plan to not only help ex-offenders re-enter into society, but to also send fewer people to prison in the first place.
According to an article by the Detroit Free Press, The Michigan Department of Corrections has a budget of 2 billion dollars. That is about a fifth to a quarter of Michigan’s general fund. Governor Snyder has set his sights on reducing that budget and redirecting those dollars at fixing Michigan roads and educating Michigan children.
It costs about $35,000 a year to house a state prisoner. Snyder called to reduce prison population to 43,000.
What About Public Safety?
“Safety and security are essential to a strong economy and a free society.”
~ Governor Snyder, reported by the Detroit Free Press
The Michigan Governor met critics head on saying during his speech that some people will ask “is he being weak on crime?” His answer was no. “This is smart justice. This is about being better and smarter at what we do.”
Keeping Offenders From Offending Again
According to an article by Michigan Live, one of the main points from Snyder’s plan is to keep offenders from going back to prison by offering training for new jobs. Snyder is looking for the Michigan Department of Corrections and Talent Investment Agency to work together, identify skills that are in-demand, improve the prisoner training, and educate prisons on living life outside the prison.
Expanding the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act
Michigan Live also reported that the governor also plans to expand the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. This is a program that allows for a young offender’s criminal record to be wiped clean after successfully completing probation.
Allocating Resources to Root Causes of Criminal Behavior
Snyder also plans to allocate more resources to address the root causes of criminal behaviors. Root causes like mental health issues, substance abuse, child neglect and truancy. By addressing these, Snyder believes we can prevent crimes from happening in the first place.
In my article, Michigan’s Specialty Courts Making a Huge Impact, we see just how far addressing these root causes goes. Here are some of the statics from a recent report:
- Graduates of drug courts were 56 times less likely to be convicted of a new offense.
- Those who attended sobriety courts and adult district drug courts were 75 percent less likely to be convicted of a new offense after being in the program after two years of participation.
- 98 percent of mental health court graduates improved their mental health.
Other Important Points for Snyder’s Plan
Today, personal protection orders are delivered by friends or family members of the domestic violence victims. Instead, Snyder called for laws that would provide free delivery of personal protection orders by the police. He also called for laws that would protect the victim’s home address from the domestic violence perpetrators.
Making sure there is a better recruitment of police officers represents the communities they patrol. According to an article by the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan State Police has actually been moving backwards.
What Do You Think?
What do you think about Governor Snyder’s call for “Smart Justice”? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.