Michigan’s Grip on Mass Incarceration Must Loosen in 2020

Michigan is one of three states in the country that has no earned system for people incarcerated in state prisons. People who are sentenced to serve time in prison in Michigan are able to earn time off of their sentence if they are sentenced federally or i they are sentenced to serve time in county jail. Unfortunately this opportunity does not exist for people or their families who are sentenced to serve time in Michigan's Department of Corrections.This imbalance is not only unreasonable, confusing and unfair; it is also ineffective cruel and unusual. On behalf of the approximately 38,000 individuals who are currently incarcerated, and their extended family members which are estimated to be close to 1 million, we have built a movement to correct this undeniable social injustice. Breaking it down to the state level: °Michigan spends $2.2 Billion each year (approximately one-third of the State's entire budget) on corrections. °Michigan's prison sentences are on average, twenty-seven months longer than the national average. °Although the federal government and forty-seven states currently offer some form of good time or earned time, Michigan does not. °Between 2006 and 2016, the crime rate in Michigan decreased by just over twenty-four percent. However, during that same time frame, the average minimum prison sentence increased by more than thirty-four percent. These are some of the reasons why we have come together in support of the Michigan Prisoner Rehabilitation Credit Act. Year after year the legislature has stalled opportunities to restore Michigan’s state prisons by offering some type of earned credit, educational credit, good time credit, behavioral credit or achievement credits to its incarcerated population. We are appalled by the State's unwillingness to provide avenues and opportunities for Michigan's incarcerated population to work toward the ultimate goal of rehabilitation. We know that many of the issues Michiganians suffer like broken roads, deficient healthcare and closing public schools could be resolved once the prison population is reduced to a smaller burden on taxpayers. At this point in MDOC oppressing procedure, when a person is sentenced to prison, he or she is typically ordered to attend and complete certain programs before they can be paroled. However, in Michigan especially, those incarcerated individuals are not usually eligible to participate in those programs until the last eighteen months of their sentence. That means that a person convicted of a violent crime, and sentenced to a prison term of ten years , cannot even begin to take the mandated courses such as Violence Prevention Program, Anger Management, and Thinking For A Change, until they have served approximately eight and half years of their sentence. How can anyone think that this is effective? We demand a change in the legislation that impose this through the passing of legislation that repeals Truth-in-Sentencing, an ineffective vestige of the 1994 Crime Bill that has plagued communities there is no real truth in sentencing, everyone’s path towards rehabilitation is different. Which is why effective good time policies are were in place, in order to craft the sentence to the growth and development of each individual and the trauma that they’ve endured. The passing of the MPRCA will incentivize our incarcerated citizens to strive toward not only maintaining a positive institutional record, but to also contribute to restoring the deficient areas of their lives (educationally, psychologically, financially) by enabling people to push themselves into areas that they might not have otherwise been motivated to venture into while in prison. The rewards for seeking higher education, maintaining consistent employment obtaining certificates for the completion of certain institutional programs, the willingness to enroll into other self-enrichment programs such as art, music, language and religion, and the willingness to get a job and keep it, will not only provide additional credit toward an early release, but it will better equip them for reintegration back into society. MPRCA offers credit to those striving behaviorally, academically and professionally. It is also retroactive, which must be the case for any change in this type of legislation, in order to effectively serve those prisoners and their families who have been denied this right to redemption for decades. Your dedication to helping pass the MPRCA will not only bring this state up to speed with what the federal government and forty- seven other states are already doing, but you will be giving those incarcerated individuals a small sense of control over their own futures and more responsibility over the outcome of their incarceration. Sincerely, Michigan Prisoner Rehabilitation Credit Act Coalition and it’s supporters

138 views2 comments