January 23, 2009

I Have A Great Idea To Cut Spending

Let's release prisoners early.

"It's the length of stay that is driving our high incarceration rate in this state," Department of Corrections Director Patricia Caruso told reporters. "People just do a lot more time."

About 12,000, or one-fourth, of Michigan's 48,000 prisoners are beyond their earliest release date. That's down from 17,000 when Granholm took office in 2003.

Policymakers want to pass laws limiting the parole board's discretion to hold inmates beyond their minimum sentence. The requirement would start with prisoners sentenced after April 1 of this year, so those in prison now wouldn't be affected -- though the board already has taken steps on its own to reduce the number of inmates being held beyond their earliest release date.

Outside experts analyzed the prison system during a yearlong review requested by the Democratic governor and legislative leaders. The bipartisan report released Thursday by the Council of State Governments was backed by legislators and administration officials who worked on the project.

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