Law Blog

Michigan Prison Sentencing Reforms Being Considered

rosannabehindbarsmarch2013One doesn’t need to be an experienced Detroit criminal attorney to know that the state’s Department of Corrections needs some correcting of its own. Mandatory sentences statewide are notoriously tough, placing Michigan as the state with the largest average time served for all crimes in 2009 alone.

These shocking statistics have prompted leading Michigan legislators and Governor Rick Snyder to consider the first set of prison sentencing reforms since the laws became noticeably stricter almost 15 years ago.

Of course, the state’s place at the top of the national time served list isn’t lawmakers only reason for discussing change—there is also a strong desire to reduce the Corrections Department’s budget, which currently surpasses $2 billion. The tougher stance on prison sentencing taken by Michigan legislators in 1998 caused a significant increase in cost as well. According to a study performed by the Pew Center on the States, the increased prison time added $472 million to the state’s yearly bill.

There is also evidence that public attitudes towards crime and punishment may be changing as well. Republican Resentative Joe Haverman explained, “Society has changed its views on a number of criminal justice issues. Being ‘tough on crime’ above all other concerns simply haven’t created a safer society.” Despite being a typically conservative legislator, Haverman’s commentary signals that the state’s government may be ready to reform some of Michigan’s toughest incarceration policies—especially as the state Legislature is Republican controlled and tends to govern conservatively as well.

Still, Michigan is in better control of prison costs than in previous years. The total number of offenders coming to prison has decreased, as well as the recidivism rate. This is largely because Michigan has consequently increased the use of probation, paroles, and electronic tethers to keep an eye on lower-level offenders without putting them in prison. Legislators have also cut costs by contracting privately for incarceration services, like food preparation. But as Michigan prison costs continue to exceed $2 billion, state lawmakers have made it clear that it isn’t enough.

As skilled and compassionate Detroit criminal defense attorneys, the legal team at Nessel and Kessel Law applauds the consideration of prison reformation. All too often, the punishments don’t fit the crime. Our knowledgeable criminal defense law firm in Detroit is dedicated to providing the best legal advice and legal representation to all those accused of crimes in Michigan. Regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor offense or felonious crime, do not hesitate to retain legal assistance immediately. Contact the legal team at Nessel and Kessel Law today.



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