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Criminal justice reforms one vote from governor’s desk

Image of a prison fence
Shayan Sanyal/flickr

Michigan is on its way toward sweeping changes in its criminal justice system. The state House passed a large package of legislation Wednesday. 

The bills would, among other things, provide more data collection on recidivism, allow reduction in probation time in some cases, and programming for youth rehabilitation.


A major goal of the package is to reduce recidivism and crime by providing more support programs and incentives.  

“If the focus is on successful outcomes then we have a very real opportunity to see up to 10,000 lives saved by virtue of no longer failing on probation or parole,” said Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, who sponsored the bill..

Proos says focusing on programs that will reduce recidivism and crime will also come with an unexpected benefit.

“An ancillary benefit, and one that can’t be underestimated, is the taxpayer dollars that are saved as we reduce the prison population and decrease the supervised population also,” he said.


But one bill failed to pass in the House. It would have given incentives to employers that hire people on probation or parole.


A last minute amendment requiring the job be posted for six months before the incentive kicked in, turned several yes votes to no.


Rep. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, supports the package overall, but voted against that bill. She said the wait period makes it just another job posting.


“I thought it neutered it,” she said. “It really gutted the spirit of the intent of the bill.”


The remaining bills are headed back to the Senate for a final vote before going to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. No word yet on if the House plans to try again with the job incentive bill.


Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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