Business leaders have taken a lead role in efforts to reform Michigan’s oversized prison system, and legislators should pay attention, editorializes the Detroit Free Press. The newspaper credits the Detroit Regional Chamber for creating a detailed plan to reduce corrections costs as part of an overall effort to restructure state government.
The Chamber supports bills reinstating good-time credits, and it has recommended reconstituting the state Parole Board into a body of professional civil servants, as well as examining sentencing guidelines and expanding prisoner re-entry programs. With a prison population of nearly 50,000, Michigan spends $2 billion a year on corrections, more than 20 percent of its general fund. The Free Press criticizes Republican legislators, who have spoken eloquently about the need to restructure government and create a leaner, more efficient state bureaucracy but who “defend criminal justice policies that have multiplied costs more than fivefold over the last three decades, with no commensurate reduction in crime.”