Michigan legislators and Gov. Rick Snyder will consider the first comprehensive sentencing reforms since their predecessors got tough on crime 15 years ago, reports the Detroit News. The idea is partly driven by a desire to cut the state corrections budget, which exceeds $2 billion. Michigan leads the U.S. in average time served by inmates at 4.3 years, 48 percent higher than the U.S. average of 2.9 years, said a 2012 Pew Charitable Trusts study. As a result of stricter lock-'em-up policies approved in 1998, Michigan's sentences or time served were 79 percent longer than in 1990, and added $472 million to annual prison costs.
Last month's launch of a state sentencing guidelines study by the bipartisan Michigan Law Review Commission reflected some flux in public attitudes toward crime and punishment. Current guidelines were approved by a Legislature reacting to violence associated with a crack cocaine epidemic, high-profile serial killings and heinous crimes by parolees. The Law Review Commission, headed by Lansing attorney Richard McLellan, plans to take a broad, “data-driven” look at what the state can do to lower prison spending and reinvest a portion of the savings to reduce recidivism rates.