Michigan programs that help inmates re-enter society say a plan to cut costs by freeing more prisoners will strain caseloads and spur more crime, reports the Detroit News. “We’re facing a crisis,” said the Rev. Dee Dee Coleman of the Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church, in Detroit. “I think this will come back to bite somebody because of how this was done. I don’t think the faith-based community was embraced in a way that would allow us to provide an appropriate level of aid and assistance to this population.”
The source of concern is a proposal by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to help avert a potential $1.8 million deficit for the year beginning Oct. 1 by enrolling 1,600 more offenders in the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative, commuting the sentences of 500 felony offenders and releasing 3,400 prisoners serving time for crimes like lesser drug offenses and passing bad checks. The News reported in June that law enforcement officials worry about the potential for more crime because of plans to parole about 600 ex-offenders in Wayne County. Launched in 2005, the state’s initiative provides ex-offenders with help in job searches, resumes, interview skills, transportation, obtaining proper identification, and counseling in life skills and domestic relations. It is made up of about 100 providers across the state, 20 percent of which are faith-based. Since the re-entry initiative began, 7,614 inmates have participated. Of those paroled, 14.8 percent returned to prison. The expected rate of recidivism without the program is about 19.1 percent.