During a press conference in Flint today, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder outlined points from his "Special Message to the Legislature on Public Safety." A press release from the governor's office quotes Snyder:
“It’s time to reinvent public safety in Michigan,” Snyder said. “Our state can’t reach its full potential until we tackle the problem of violent crime in our cities. It devastates families, leaves neighborhoods in fear and robs our state of its economic vitality. But we can overcome these challenges through a collaborative, comprehensive and long-term approach. By moving forward with a system of ‘smart justice,’ we will hold chronic offenders accountable for their actions, bring peace of mind to community residents, help to break the cycles that perpetuate crime, and unleash Michigan’s economic growth."
According to the press release, Snyder's message to the legislature lays out a wide range of initiatives and policy changes intended to address crime and public safety issues in Michigan.
Below are some highlights of Snyder's "smart justice" plan from the press release:
- Secure Cities Partnership: The governor unveiled his Secure Cities Partnership initiative to support law enforcement efforts in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw and the roadways connecting them. The Michigan State Police will provide local assistance and coordinate teams of local, state and federal law enforcement officers to direct patrols and provide investigative resources.
- Fire and first responders: Recognizing the critical role that firefighters and first responders have in public safety, Snyder is forming an advisory council that will recommend ways to provide better emergency services statewide with a long-term, sustainable cost model.
- Prosecutorial support: The governor recommends an investment of $900,000 for prosecutorial support in distressed cities, which a particular focus on Flint.
- Mental health courts: Mental health courts are the best resource available to provide treatment to mentally ill people who break the law. They can require individuals to comply with treatment, which may keep them from committing crimes.
- Drug courts: Drug treatment courts address the revolving-door cycle in which drug and alcohol offenders move in and out of the justice system. Snyder proposes a legislative appropriation of $1.25 million to create a high-risk, high-need drug court initiative that expands drug court programming in Genesee, Wayne, Oakland and Saginaw counties.
- Human trafficking: Current Michigan law does not adequately address the problem of human trafficking, which often victimizes children. The governor will support legislation that protects victims and goes after the individuals who profit from this crime.
- New paths for young people: To help teens from urban areas realize that promising opportunities exist, the governor recommends that $5 million in the FY 13 budget be used to support programs for teens in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw.
- Removing abandoned buildings: Abandoned buildings often are havens for illegal activity. Wayne County lists nearly 10,000 tax foreclosed properties for auction, primarily in Detroit. Many of these are occupied by criminal operations or simply held by speculators willing to perpetuate community blight in the hope of personal financial gain. The governor proposes a change in state law to forbid individuals with unpaid taxes or who own blighted properties from buying any more property at auction.
- Truancy: The Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) will place more social workers within the 135 public schools in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw. In addition, the governor is directing DHS to require regular school attendance as a condition of temporary cash assistance eligibility.
-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom