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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Lawmakers introduce public safety bill package, hoping to decrease recidivism

Exterior of fence and prison grounds
Katie Raymond
/
Michigan Radio

Lawmakers in Michigan's House of Representatives have introduced a package of bills designed to make changes to existing laws regarding public safety.

The seven-bill package has bipartisan support, and seeks to lower recidivism rates and provide support to victims of crimes.

House bills 4670-4677 would make a variety of changes to the state's corrections system. HB 4670, for example, would set up a system of "productivity time units" that incentivize inmates participating in a vocational or educational program. These units could have an impact on whether that inmate is granted parole.

The bills would also amend rules for victims of crimes who receive compensation from the state. For instance, HB 4674 would increase the amount of money a victim is eligible to receive, and would expand  the definition of who could benefit from such compensation in the event that the victim is killed as a result of the crime. 

State Representative Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) is a sponsor of the bills. He had a career in law enforcement before his tenure in the state Legislature. He says rehabilitation should be the focus for state prisons, and that right now, these prisons do "a bad job" preparing inmates for life after release.

"We talk about all of the skilled trades in other places that have a shortage of qualified people. This will prepare them, and if we prepare them for a job, the recidivism rate will plummet," he says.

Representative Jim Lilly (R-Park Township) is another sponsor. He says training incarcerated people for jobs will help make Michigan's workforce and economy more productive upon their release.

"We can make Michigan a more compassionate, competitive, and safer state by having a rehabilitative approach to incarceration, doing the right thing for our fellow citizens who have been victimized and have had their lives turned upside down by these crimes through no fault of their own," he says.

Another goal the sponsors have is to reduce what they call "wasteful" spending on prisons.

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