Dem Wants Prisoners ‘Good Times’ Credits Reinstated, Rolling Back “Crime Resistant” Measures Michigan Advance

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Michigan Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced legislation last week that would restore “good time credits” to the Michigan prison system.

Good Times Credits is a system that allows inmates to earn credits by following the rules and participating in academic and vocational programs and earn with the intention that inmates can be released early on good behavior.

Irwin’s package, Senate Bills 649652, would restore good time credits to Michigan prisons. Irwin’s Bills establish a system in which inmates could earn thirty days of credit for thirty days of good behavior, thereby reducing their prison term. Michigan is currently one of the six states who does not have a good credit system in place.

Senator Jeff Irwin at a rally with Senator Bernie Sanders in Ann Arbor, March 8, 2020 | André Roth

The state had put in place a “good time” credit system until it was dismantled by a ballot initiative in 1978. Instead of “good times” credits, the state established “disciplinary credits” in 1982 which were abolished in 1998 with the enactment of the Truth in Sentencing Laws . These laws required people to serve their full minimum sentence and subject them to a “disciplinary time” program that would increase a person’s jail term for any citation of misconduct.

Irwin’s Senate Bill 0651 would eliminate any reference to “disciplinary time”.

In an interview with the Advance this week, Irwin said restoring good time credits would allow longtime prisoners who “followed the rules” and “stayed out of trouble” to be able to return to their communities and ask the government to “stop paying for it.” their room. “

“The good time credits were originally phased out as part of a crime-fighting philosophy that was very popular in the ’90s, but which, on reflection, was clearly a huge failure,” Irwin said. . “If we were to pass a law like mine, I think it’s very reasonable to assume that we could save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade by simply freeing up people who have already spent a lot of time in it. prison and who have shown through the time they served [that] they are good candidates for release.

According to the House Fiscal Agency’s budget briefing on corrections, the state of Michigan spent $ 31,222 per inmate in 2018.

According to another report released in 2019 by Safe and Just Michigan, Michigan taxpayers pay a valued $ 456 million per year on incarcerated persons serving a prison system of 20 years or more. Safe and Just Director of Outreach, Troy Rienstra, Recount the Advance in 2019 that Michigan prisoners will serve 127% of their sentence and spend more time in prison than in any other state.

Since the erasure of good times credits has been cemented into the state constitution through a ballot, three-quarters of the legislature is expected to vote in favor of restoring credits for it to be enacted. . This is a difficult hurdle with a GOP-controlled legislature, although many bipartisans criminal justice reform bills were promulgated in the last term, including legislation erasure minor offenses and “Raise age”Juvenile justice reforms.

Irwin’s bills, however, only have Democratic co-sponsors. They were referred to the Senate Committee on Justice and Public Safety, chaired by Senator Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville), which did not respond to a request for comment.

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

a attempt Obtaining a measure to restore the correct time credits on the 2020 ballot was attempted by the Michigan Prisoner Rehabilitation Credit Act, but organizers did not obtain the necessary signatures to get it on the ballot due to the pandemic of COVID-19.

Irwin also introduced the bills under Senate Bill 12401243 last session, but the bills were referred to the Judicial and Public Safety Committee, where they died.

Despite previous unsuccessful attempts to reinstate the “good times” credits, Irwin believes that conservative politicians are increasingly supporting ways to reduce costs to the criminal justice system, and that his bill does just that.

“One of the things we have seen over the last few years is that there are more and more conservatives who are thinking about smart justice, rather than ‘getting tough on crime’,” said Irwin. “Are they thinking about how we can make this system work better for public safety and cost less?” And so there is a real point of agreement that we have, and that we can work with.

Irwin also pointed out that initiatives like his would spark a conversation about the cost of the criminal justice system and that, in turn, citizens would start pushing lawmakers to make changes to reduce the high cost of Michigan’s prison system.

In a press release from Michigan Justice Advocacy, a criminal justice reform advocacy group, the bill will provide “a positive incentive for behavioral growth” that will reduce “the likelihood of recidivism.” The organization also said it hopes the bill “will create a safer society.”

“With the current shortage of correctional officers, the rising cost of incarceration, and the many reintegration programs across the state, Michigan has never been so prepared to deal with [number one] in the country for the duration of his sentence, ”the group said in a press release. “These credits would provide critical relief to overcrowded Michigan prisons, creating a safer environment for both correctional officers and those incarcerated.”

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