Senate approves bipartisan criminal justice reforms

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Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate has approved the Senate’s bipartisan criminal justice reform measures, said Sen. John Proos, who led the effort to introduce the reforms.

“Michigan needs a smarter criminal justice system that helps break the cycle of incarceration and ensure that the safety of the public is always the top priority,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The Senate passage of these bills is the latest step in an effort to reform and modernize our criminal justice system so it keeps Michigan residents safe, reduces costs to taxpayers and results in better outcomes for prisoners — so they can eventually be successfully reintroduced back into society.”

Senate Bills 932-949 and 974-975 were approved on June 9. Among reforms included in the package are ways to enact better track and evaluate recidivism data, expedite medical commutation hearings, encourage partnerships with outside volunteers beneficial to prisoners, expand the use of a consent calendar for juveniles, and provide a tax credit for employing a probationer or parolee.

“Half of Michigan’s prison population is made up of parole and probation violators, and the national average is 30 percent,” said Proos, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for the Judiciary and Corrections budgets. “This is about redirecting our resources from simply putting people behind bars to ensuring parolees and probationers are rehabilitated and prepared for success.”

Currently, about 38,000 of the state’s 42,000 prisoners will eventually return to their Michigan communities.

“Much of this restorative justice effort is designed to help reduce recidivism and, therefore, also help reduce crime and prison costs,” Proos said.

SBs 933-935 and 948-949 address probation reforms. SBs 933, 934 and 935 would limit the revocation time that a probation violator would serve for technical violations, allow judges to shorten a probation term as a result of good behavior and provide an incentive to probation agents and supervisors to keep probationers out of prison.

SBs 948 and 949, both sponsored by Proos, would update the state’s swift and sure probation sanctioning program. The reforms would allow a circuit court to institute a swift and sure sanctions court and accept eligible participants from other jurisdictions.

“By using a smarter, data-driven approach, Michigan can better measure what works best to efficiently and effectively rehabilitate prisoners,” Proos said. “Our goal is to reduce the cost of our criminal justice system while also helping break the cycle of crime. Refocusing our system on prisoner rehabilitation is good for public safety and a smarter use of taxpayer dollars.”

The bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available on the senator’s website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Audio” under the Media Center tab.