Lawmakers focus on law and order, public safety
LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos and Sen. Mike Nofs, chairmen of the Senate Appropriations subcommittees on Corrections and State Police, respectively, announced on Monday that they will co-chair a subcommittee meeting on Wednesday to discuss a top priority for the state: public safety.
“Public safety is, and must continue to be, our number one priority,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “With 30 years of law enforcement experience and 20 years as an elected official, I know that in order for communities to flourish, citizens must feel safe where they live, work and play.”
The senators noted that Michigan has a substantial amount of criminal activity when compared to many other states. The state has the unfortunate distinction of having three of the top ten most dangerous cities in America (No. 3 Detroit, No. 7 Flint and No. 8 Saginaw) and seven in the top 100 (No. 39 Kalamazoo, No. 50 Lansing, No. 79 Jackson and No. 84 Battle Creek). As recently as 2013, Detroit was ranked as the number one most dangerous city in America.
Yet Michigan has recently seen a drop in the rates of violent crime. According to the Michigan State Police, there were 131,354 incidents of violent crime in Michigan in 2015 — down from 160,863 in 2007.
“Our law enforcement professionals are being asked to take on the enormous task of keeping our communities safe all across Michigan,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I believe that a continued focus on smart criminal justice strategies and reforms will achieve the goal of making our communities safer and easing the burden we place on law enforcement across our state, while at the same time continuing the trend of decreasing prison populations.”
Proos, Nofs and many of their Senate colleagues passed a bipartisan package of 21 bills in June. The bills would reform and modernize Michigan’s criminal justice system, seek verifiable programming for prisoner reentry into society and keep Michigan residents safe. The senators noted that as the crime rate drops and prisoners return to society with better outcomes, taxpayers would benefit with safer communities.
The bill package includes the Parole Sanction Certainty program, an intensive supervision program that includes close monitoring and frequent random drug and alcohol testing in order to improve parolee success by promptly imposing graduated sanctions, including small amounts of jail time, for violations; expansion of specialty courts like those tailored to mental health, veterans and substance abuse needs; embracing innovative probation and parole programs that arise from first-hand experience at the county level; and more.
The hearing will also highlight the Secure Cities program, put in place in 2012 and currently sustained at $4.5 million, which supports law enforcement efforts in communities most effected by crime. Since its introduction, 180 new troopers are providing communities with enhanced law enforcement patrols, investigations and policing.
Other programs included in next year’s budget, which was approved this spring, include $27 million allocated for the Detroit Reentry Center, more than $1 million devoted to increasing mental health programming and $1.4 million directed toward the Goodwill ‘Flip-the-Script Program,’ an outcome-based life-transformational mentoring and job-training program based in Detroit.
The hearing will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 12:30 p.m. in the Senate Hearing Room, located in the Boji Tower, Ground Floor, 124 W. Allegan St. in Lansing. You can find more information at www.legislature.mi.gov or watch the subcommittee hearing live or replayed at www.senate.michigan.gov.