Michigan corrections officials may have devised a new way to avoid hitting population limits on the state’s 41 prisons this summer without dramatically increasing the number of offenders in county jails, the Associated Press reports. An earlier plan would have sent more low-level offenders to jail, probation, or a community corrections program instead of prison. The new proposal would change a point system used to determine whether a low-level offender should be sentenced to prison, jail or probation. The four lowest classes of felony crimes would be affected, including arson, destruction of property, drunken driving, and fleeing a police officer.
The proposal would cut by 650 the number of prison beds needed in a 12-month period, increase the number of jail beds needed in that time by nearly 230, and increase the number of offenders put on probation by nearly 890. The change would help the prison system avoid reaching capacity in August, when the number of inmates is expected to go from 48,600 now to 49,400. Without the changes, the state would have to add beds to prison day rooms and gymnasiums.