Michigan Passes Criminal Justice Reform Package
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has recently signed into law a package of bills which reforms the state’s criminal justice system. The package includes 18 bills which address parole and probation practices as well as the implementation of new tools to help prevent repeat criminal offenses. The bills were part of efforts which received overwhelming bipartisan support from state lawmakers.
“We are continuously looking for ways to reform Michigan’s criminal justice system in ways that will make our communities safer,” Governor Snyder said. “The best way to do this is through an evidence-based approach—by analyzing the problem and figuring out where we stand, we are better equipped to make continuous improvements.” The new legislation addresses rehabilitation and recidivism or the tendency for someone to reoffend across the state. The 18 bill package creates sweeping reforms in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) and creates incentives for parolees and probationers to cooperate and seek rehabilitative services.
One of the biggest reforms is SB 8, which creates the Recidivism Reduction Act. This requires the Michigan Department of Corrections and local agencies that receive state funding to implement new evidence-based supervision practices to reduce recidivism among probationers and parolees. It would give agencies a four year period to adopt new evidence-based practices which greatly mirrors the ALEC model Recidivism Reduction Act. This would include the adoption of risk and needs assessment tools, assessment scores, definitions of risk levels, the development of case plans and responses to compliant and noncompliant behavior.
Other important reforms fall under SB 22 and SB 9 which would create more rehabilitative resources for inmates who desire such services. SB 22 improves rehabilitative services for young adults between the ages of 18 and 22. It will provide age-appropriate programming through the DOC and requires that the DOC submit an annual report to committee members responsible for improving corrections issues. In addition, SB 9 will establish that organizations can apply to provide volunteer reentry services within the MDOC. These services can include, but are not limited to, counseling, providing information on housing and job placement and money management. These important measures can help address the reentry process for those seeking to get back on their feet, which will also reduce recidivism rates across the state.
These important reforms will help the state address recidivism and rehabilitation while also improving public safety. Other measures in the bill package improve data collection and better define forms of “recidivism” as well as improve the implementation of programs for supervision. These news reforms can hopefully serve as a model for other states to adopt in the future.