Michigan law enforcement officials praised proposals for cutting 5,000 prison inmates and saving a modest $262 million by 2015, reports the Detroit News. The report, prepared by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, falls far short of the $500 million in annual savings on corrections spending sought by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and others. Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s 2010 budget proposal is expected to keep prison spending near $2 billion — 57 percent more than the cost a decade ago. The recommendations by the state government council, which is working with Michigan officials on a two- to three-year study, is a significant first step.
The biggest savings would be achieved by reducing the parole board’s authority to keep convicts behind bars long after they have served their minimum sentences. It would aim to have the average inmate serve 120 percent of his or her minimum sentence, rather than the current 127 percent. The recommendations could result in real savings in later years, by helping drop the inmate population to around 43,500 by 2015 and reducing the crime rate, corrections officials say. The project was supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts Center on the States and the U.S. Department of Justice. The state’s share of the cost came to $100,000.