Proos applauds Michigan prison population decline

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Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos on Thursday applauded the recent news that Michigan’s prison population has dropped below 40,000 for the first time in more than 20 years.

“This is fantastic news for our entire state and is an illustration that our efforts to focus our criminal justice system on lowering recidivism and keeping Michigan safe are yielding positive results,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I want to congratulate Director Washington and the Department of Corrections for doing a great job in preparing prisoners for life outside of prison and my legislative colleagues for enacting smart reforms to help break the cycle of crime.”

Proos spearheaded reforms signed in March to limit the time that a probation violator would serve for technical violations, allow judges to shorten a probation term as a result of good behavior, and use data-driven approaches to help reintegrate offenders back into society.

The reforms also created the Recidivism Reduction Act and updated the state’s swift and sure probation sanctioning program to allow a circuit court to institute a swift and sure sanctions court and accept eligible participants from other jurisdictions.

According to the most recent prison census, the total population in Michigan’s prison system is now 39,991. It marks the first time the prison population has been below 40,000 since the system crossed that threshold in 1994.

“This achievement is also the result of good work by police, sheriffs, prosecutors and judges who are committed to problem-solving actions that protect the public and lead to successful outcomes,” Proos said. “The overwhelming majority of our prisoners will eventually return to their communities. Efficiently and effectively rehabilitating prisoners gives them a better chance at normal and productive lives, and it reduces crime, recidivism and costs.”

Proos highlighted the Vocational Village program at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia as an example of a program in Michigan’s prisons that helps reduce recidivism by providing prisoners useful skills like plumbing and welding.

“The Vocational Village program has had a remarkable record of success, with only one parole violation among its graduates,” Proos said. “Each time a parolee successfully re-enters society is one less crime being committed, one less victim and one less person costing taxpayers thousands of dollars to keep behind bars.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.