Prisoners could benefit from early release thanks to “productivity credits”



A bipartite package of invoices Called The Safer Michigan Act would give some incarcerated people an earlier release and parole date by earning what are known as productivity credits through educational and vocational programs.

Productivity credits would be awarded to eligible inmates who complete an educational or vocational program approved by the Department of Corrections. Productivity credits could also be earned by earning a high school diploma, high school equivalency certificate, or graduate diploma.

But not all incarcerated people are eligible.

People already in prison are not eligible. Only those convicted from the date of entry into force of the bills could earn credits. The bills would not apply to people who are not eligible for parole or to those convicted of a recordable sex offense, murder or human trafficking.

Eligible prisoners would not be allowed to earn more than two years or 20 percent of their overall sentence, whichever is shorter.

One of the sponsors of the bills, State Representative Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), said the bills are aimed at reducing recidivism or reoffending.

“This is an opportunity for Michigan to help increase our public safety and reduce crime and help victims by reducing recidivism by providing rehab incentives,” she said.

The package requires that victims be notified if their offender is eligible to receive productivity credits for sentence deductions.

Four invoices are included in the package. Other sponsors of the bills include Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit), Rep. Bryan Posthumus (R-Oakfield Township) and Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland).

The bills have received support from the Alliance for Security and Justice, the National Director of Crime Survivors for Security and Justice, Crime Survivors for Security and Justice, the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Western Michigan Political Forum, and the Grand Rapids chamber.

“Too often, incarcerated people are reintegrated into society without the tools or support necessary to have stable jobs and give back to their community,” said Mike Jandernoa, president of the West Michigan Policy Forum Policy Forum at A press release. “The Safer Michigan Act Productivity Credits program holds people accountable, while engaging them in programs that are proven to improve outcomes, reduce recidivism and improve public safety.

Gongwer reports that opponents of the package include the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and a number of state attorneys and sheriffs.

The House Fiscal Agency said the bills have an undetermined fiscal impact on the state. The agency predicts that the bills would reduce the prison population in the state, resulting in savings, but those savings would not be realized until four to five years later.

The amount of savings would depend on many factors, including:

  • the number of inmates participating in the programming,
  • the number of inmates who successfully complete the programming,
  • the number of productivity credits and productivity bonuses earned, how the number of credits earned affects the total length of inmates
  • the number of inmate beds that may eventually be closed.

The agency also predicts that this would likely result in additional upfront costs of funding to potentially expand educational and vocational programs.

About 60% of the prison population would be eligible to earn productivity credits for sentence deductions. The agency estimates that if each eligible prisoner completed a program during their incarceration, 1,500 to 2,200 prisoner beds could be reduced. If the number of beds is actually reduced, the agency estimates savings of about $ 84.4 million in various fixed, administrative and operational costs – or about $ 70 million in incremental costs.

The package was presented to the Internal Rules and Competitiveness Committee on Thursday.


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