The debate about criminal justice reform: CAPPS analyzes PAAM report
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  • on August 7, 2015 -

The debate about criminal justice reform: CAPPS analyzes PAAM report

CAPPS’s June report, 10,000 fewer Michigan prisoners: Strategies to reach the goal, detailed about two-dozen recommendations for safely reducing the Michigan prison population. Each recommendation is supported by relevant data and policy information. The report has been hailed as a “roadmap for legislators” by both conservative and liberal commentators and has received widespread editorial and media coverage.

The Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) also recently released Michigan Prisoners, Violent Crime and Public Safety: A Prosecutors Report. We hope you will download and read the PDF of the PAAM report, CAPPS analysis, 6-30-15.

Understanding and joining in the public debate about presumptive parole and other criminal justice reforms will be especially important this fall. Hopefully, you will find both CAPPS’s analysis of the PAAM report and the CAPPS Summary of HB 4138 useful tools. If you have questions or concerns, or would be willing to write an op ed or letter to the editor in support of reform legislation, please contact CAPPS at (517) 482-7753 or capps@capps-mi.org.

In the meantime, here’s some KEY FACTS YOU CAN USE TO DISCUSS CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORMS

Michigan’s violent crime rate:

  • There is no proven relationship between Michigan’s regrettably high violent crime rate and the length of time people convicted of those crimes serve in prison before being released.
  • In Michigan, the violent crime rate declined steadily during the same period that our prison population dropped.
  • There is no correlation between violent crime rates and incarceration rates. States that are similar in one dimension are often vastly different on another

Michigan’s prison commitment rate:

  • Michigan’s commitment rate for all convicted felons is lower than the national average because we send fewer drug and property offenders to prison.
  • Yet Michigan’s incarceration rate for serious assaultive crimes is equal to or greater than the national average.
  • Michigan’s use of community-based sanctions for property and drug offenses has nothing to do with when people who do go to prison should be released.

Michigan’s extremely long average prison length of stay:

  • The PEW Center on the States found that, of 35 states for which it had data, Michigan had the longest average length of stay in 2009 for prisoners in general and for those convicted of assaultive offenses in particular.
  • Increases in the length of time served resulted from both longer sentences imposed for the more serious offenses and fluctuations in parole grant rates.
  • Research has found no relationship between length of stay and likelihood of reoffending.

Corrections costs:

  • The increase in Michigan’s prisoner health costs is directly related to the increase in the number of older prisoners, which in turn, is primarily a product of life and very long indeterminate sentences imposed decades ago. The proportion of prisoners over age 55 increased from under five percent in 2003 to nearly 12 percent in 2013.

Public safety and parole:

  • There is no evidence that continuing people’s incarceration beyond their earliest release dates enhances public safety.
  • In 2009 and 2010, returns to prison with new sentences actually decreased, despite the release of more than 1,000 additional people service for homicide and sex offenses as a result of the Michigan parole board’s continuance review process.
  • Homicide and sex offenders have extremely low rates of repeating their offenses – 0.5 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.
 

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