Skubick: Two prison-reform proposals could save MI tax-payers millions

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — There are two proposals in the legislative hopper to make it easier for current prison inmates to get out as part of the so-called prison reform movement.

Anytime anybody talks about allowing inmates out of prison, there is a natural public concern about the crimes they might commit when back on the streets.

Former Rep Harvey Santana and state Sen. Jeff Irwin are trying to alleviate those concerns.

“It’s time to get smart on crime and not just tough on crime,” said Irwin.

“It’s not a get out of jail free card. You have to work at it to get it,” stated Harvey.

Under the Santana proposal,  inmates can shave time off his or her sentence by learning some job skills but part of law enforcement is against the proposal.

“We have to make sure that the rehabilitative programs and vocational programs are there so when they get out they are workforce ready and do the positive things that people do in communities,” continued Harvey.

The problem for Mr. Irwin is that Michigan voters in 1978 voted to end “earned time” in prisons he argues the attitude about crime then is different than today.

“That was a by-gone rear where we believed if you got tough enough and if we locked them up and threw await the key, it would work. we now know it doesn’t work,” said Irwin.

The corrections department forecasts millions of taxpayer dollars could be saved in case of an increase in paroles.

Mr. Irwin argues if they behave behind bars, they should get time off for good behavior.

“They are following the rule, they are not getting in trouble, they are engaging in education programing and then those are the folks who have a high level of success. We should let them out.”

Lawmakers are just beginning to debate on this in committee.

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