Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and a group of law enforcement leaders have denounced the governor’s plan to reduce sentences for dozens of crimes to save money by sending fewer criminals to prison or county jails, reports the Detroit News. Cox said revisions of state sentencing guidelines proposed by corrections officials and Gov. Jennifer Granholm, are “seriously flawed,” will endanger citizens, have only “marginal impact” on lowering the number of inmates behind bars and shift more of the burden to county lockups. “It’s only about saving money,” said Jackson Police Chief Ervin Portis, who heads the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. “Where’s the concern about public safety?”
Law officers and Cox said administration proposals would relax penalties for 225 crimes, many of which send relatively few offenders to prison. Lowered punishment for such crimes as fleeing police, identity theft, and election fraud would endanger citizens and officers, send the wrong message and help free violent criminals who have pleaded guilty to lesser charges, they said. Rep. Paul Condino, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Republicans should “take a chill pill” and wait to see what legislation is are filed before going on the attack. Condino is pushing for creation of a state sentencing commission and for mental health courts to could reduce the proportion of mentally ill in prison — about 22 percent of the more than 50,000 state inmates. “I’m hoping I can at least achieve a consensus we have to make some reforms in corrections,” he said. “How is it we could incarcerate only 18,600 inmates 30 years ago and now it’s over 50,000?” Prisons eat up nearly $2 billion a year in tax revenue, more than Michigan spends on its 15 state universities.