Michigan Legislature: Let Some People Go!

An open letter to Governor Granholm and the Michigan Legislature:

We could save $150,000,000 per year for Michigan by reducing the prison population by 20%, without compromising public safety! The parole board automatically denies consideration for parole for many classes of prisoner. Our incarceration rate is too high and climbing. The parole board routinely denies parole despite solid evidence that most first-offenders who are convicted of CSC, Murder 2, VCSA, and many other crimes have very low recidivism rates. A conscientious parole board would sort out the good risks from the bad ones, not refuse to consider anyone who was convicted of certain crimes. “Life means life” is not sound public policy it’s a political mantra. For more information visit sites such as the Justice Policy Institute, www.justicepolicy.org and The Mackinac Center, www.mackinac.org/4959, which present very helpful analysis.

If we cut our prison population from 50,000 to 40,000, the savings would be $300,000,000 at $30,000 per prisoner. Pour half of that savings into prisoner re-entry programs and we would still save $150,000,000–and greatly improve the social fabric in our state.

Think about it: In 1984 Michigan had 15,000 prisoners and the population was 9.2 million. Today we have 50,000 Michigan prisoners and the population is 10.2 million. Do you feel three times as safe as you did in 1984? I think we could reduce the prison population by two thirds without compromising public safety, but let’s start with a modest 20%.

Unfortunately, our parole board members are gutless bureaucrats who refuse to do the job they were hired for and our legislators are knee-jerk jerks who can’t see beyond the next election. They are afraid to tell the public anything it does not want to hear. I don’t have any hope that Michigan will adopt any sane corrections policies in my lifetime; but you who are educated far above average, and are capable of understanding what our government cannot, might want to give this some thought.


John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2010 John B. Payne, Attorney

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