A new state audit and the Michigan Department of Corrections have uncovered what could amount to millions of dollars of questionable spending in the touted Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative. The state must act now to correct problems, which are due largely to a lack of oversight on the more than $33-million program, without undermining its essential mission, says the Detroit Free Press in an editorial.
The newspaper says, “This vital and effective program is too important to the state’s overall corrections reforms efforts to be compromised, or even scrapped, by a governor who is rightfully intolerant of waste.” In Wayne County, contract agencies were paid multiple bonuses of up to $1,000 each for finding parolees jobs — and then received added bonuses when each parolee stayed employed. The program has helped reduce the state’s prison population, after decades of steady increases, saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Recidivism rates for parolees in the re-entry programs have dropped by a third. Michigan’s overall recidivism rate is now a relatively low 33%.