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State House passes “gutted” prison reform bills, sponsor unhappy

cell block in a prison
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The state House has approved bills meant to reduce prison costs in Michigan. But the sponsor of the legislation says the bills have been “gutted.”

State Representative Joe Haveman, R-Holland, says provisions were taken out that would have kept more people out of prison.

“If we could do that, then we’re affecting people at a younger age before they’re doing big crimes and we’re going to have safer communities, fewer criminals, fewer victims,” Haveman told reporters after the late night vote on Thursday.

“In my mind, this was never about saving money in the next year, this was about saving money in ten years – and, more importantly, correcting behavior and lessening crime.”

Haveman says the bills were stripped down mostly due to concerns raised by some law enforcement groups. But he also blasted Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a fellow Republican, for his opposition to the legislation.

“He had no intention of ever going along with any reform,” said Haveman. “He can’t help himself. We’ll keep plugging along without him.”

Schuette says he’s concerned the measures could compromise public safety, and has urged lawmakers to wait until after their “lame duck” session to debate the legislation.

But Haveman says the attorney general’s office is wrong to claim the bills are being rushed through at the end of the legislative session.

“They were there all summer at the town hall meetings and they were at the table with the stakeholders,” he said. “So for them to say that this has been rammed through in lame duck and it’s rushed and all that stuff is so disingenuous, it’s ridiculous.”

Haveman hopes the state Senate will restore some provisions of the bills.

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