‘Swift and Sure’ bills approved by Senate

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LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. John Proos to protect public safety and reduce prison costs by creating a “Swift and Sure” punishment program in Michigan for parolees and probationers. 

“As we continue to improve the efficiency of state government and reduce the burden of bureaucracy on our economy, we must look to see what is working in other states and bring those proven ideas to Michigan,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This innovative Swift and Sure program is based on a successful program in Hawaii that helped significantly reduce crime and drug use by probationers and resulted in substantial cost savings.”

Proos noted that, in one year, probationers in Hawaii’s Honest Opportunity with Probation Enforcement (HOPE) program were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime, 72 percent less likely to use drugs, 61 percent less likely to skip appointments with their supervisory officer and 53 percent less likely to have their probation revoked than the control group. As a result, they also served or were sentenced to an average of 48 percent fewer days of incarceration.

Michigan’s Fiscal Year 2012 Judiciary and Department of Corrections budgets included the program as a pilot project for counties with combined courts and drug courts, and the current Fiscal Year 2013 budgets, which began Oct. 1, expand the program to allow more counties to apply. 

Berrien County Trial Court Judge Sterling Schrock, who presides over the county’s pilot program, came to Lansing in September to testify in support of Proos’ bills.

“We are excited in Berrien County about the Swift and Sure program,” Schrock said. “We are already seeing positive results due to the program, which is good news for the offenders, our corrections system and our community.”

Senate Bills 1141 and 1179 would make the pilot Swift and Sure program permanent. The program would supervise high-risk probationers and require them to undergo frequent, random drug and alcohol testing so that treatment decisions are based on the probationer’s behavior.

“Swift and Sure protects our communities in a more cost-effective manner by punishing certain probation violators with jail time instead of returning them to state prisons,” Proos said. “It is estimated that the program will save Michigan taxpayers $25 million every year once expanded statewide. Those are resources we can use for other priorities, like education and job creation.

“As the Senate chair for the Corrections budget, I continue to look for efficiencies that will bring our prison costs in line with those of our neighboring states. Swift and Sure is an example of a program that helps us meet that goal without jeopardizing public safety.”

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Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”

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