Gov. Rick Snyder outlined a public safety agenda on Monday that includes parole and sentencing reforms, job training for inmates, and more help finding a job once they’re released from prison.
Snyder says there are data-driven ways to reduce the state’s prison population without compromising public safety.
“This is about smart justice,” Snyder said during his criminal justice address in Detroit.
“This is about being smarter and better at what we do. If someone has committed a crime, they should be punished, but one thing we need to recognize – the vast majority of the people that are incarcerated are coming back out.”
The governor said helping inmates find jobs before they leave prison can dramatically reduce crime and corrections costs.
“There is this whole cycle of everything from lack of employment opportunities to poverty to so many different issues, to family situations that contribute to this, that you need to address every part of the cycle if you really want to make a difference.”
Other measures the governor outlined were more controversial. For example, he is asking lawmakers to make it easier for certain prisoners to get out on parole, changes to the way the state handles probation, and an overhaul of Michigan’s sentencing guidelines.
Similar bills died in the Legislature last year after state Attorney General Bill Schuette forcefully opposed them during lawmakers’ “lame duck” session.
Ultimately, Snyder says much of the state’s focus should be keeping people out of the criminal justice in the first place.
“That pipeline that people talk about that goes from school to prison – that’s a terrible term to even have in our vocabulary,” he said. “And we need to work hard to erase that.”