Despite adding 5,000 felons to probation and parole since 2000, the Michigan Department of Corrections has kept the number of agents supervising them relatively flat, at fewer than 1,100, says the Detroit News. A National Council on Crime and Delinquency report found Michigan needed 350 more probation and parole agents to monitor criminals adequately. The prison agency and the union representing the agents agree they need more people to keep the public safe. The two sides disagree about how many agents are needed. The Corrections Department wants to add 46 agents and a technology infusion. United Auto Workers Local 6000 endorses the 350 number.
The supervised release program finds itself under greater scrutiny after Patrick Selepak was paroled last summer and, despite apparent violations of his release, remained on the streets until he was charged with three slayings in February. Michigan has the eighth-largest parole population in the nation. About half the people released on parole in Michigan wind up back in prison within two years, usually for new crimes. Probation and parole agents find themselves doing more with fewer resources. “They have to cut corners,” said a union official. “They may only spend five minutes with a parolee instead of spending more time with him and getting to know his situation better.”