Help Motivate Michigan Prisoners To Rehabilitate Themselves If The State Won't Do It.

Help Motivate Michigan Prisoners To Rehabilitate Themselves If The State Won't Do It.

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Brenda Thomas started this petition to Michigan Legislature

Forty-seven states and the federal government offer some type of "good time" to allow prisoners an opportunity for early release, if they do nothing more than stay out of trouble. Of those forty-seven states, thirty-eight also offer other programs to allow prisoners a chance to earn additional credit toward early release. The State of Michigan doesn't offer either. 

Michigan has decided that incarcerating its citizens has become profitable. One example to support this claim is that between 2006 and 2016, Michigan's prison population fell about 24%, but during that same time period, its average minimum prison sentence increased by 32%. The State has realized that it has to keep the prisons full one way or another. If it can't fill them with new people, it will just keep the ones already in there for longer.

These individuals have decided that they are willing to work hard to prove that they have made fundamental changes in their lives, shouldn't we all support this ideal?

Signing this petition will help us prove that the individuals incarcerated in Michigan, are as important as those individuals incarcerated in the other 47 states.

There have been several different "Good Time" bills presented to the Michigan Legislature in the past twenty years. However, not a single one of those proposed bills ever made it to the floor for a vote. And because the original good time statute was nullified by a majority vote of Michigan citizens back in 1978, even if those bills would have made it to the floor, repealing that 1978 referendum would have required a three - fourths majority vote in both the State House and Senate. That three-fourths vote is still required today - a task that is virtually impossible to accomplish given the political atmosphere we live in.

That is why, as opposed to trying to repeal the 1978 referendum, we are presenting the MICHIGAN'S PRISONER REHABILITATION CREDIT ACT. The passing of this legislation would only require a simple majority vote.

We believe that the primary reason people have not supported previously proposed bills was due to a fear of a mass exodus. They were concerned that the passing of the bill would open the gates of Michigan prisons, and simply allow tens of thousands of dangerous prisoners to walk free. Although that was not the case, we are not going to spend time debating the pros and cons of previously submitted bills. Instead, we are going to focus on what makes our proposed bill different, and how it should calm anyone's fear of a mass exodus.

Below are just a few items we would ask you to consider as you decide whether or not you should support this petition.

The need for change:

* 47 other states and the federal government can't be wrong. Motivating prisoners to become better individuals, while earning credit toward an early release, is a win - win for everyone involved.

* Between 2006 and 2016, Michigan's crime rate dropped by 20 percent, yet the average minimum prison sentence increased by 32 percent. MDOC Legislative Liaison, Kyle Kaminski, has stated that " We're approaching what we view as the natural floor for the prison population with our current accepted practices. We'll get to the point where we can't move the population down any further and we'll need some kind of structural reform to do that." The State lacks the sustainability to support the current system.

* The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. It imprisons 34% more people than the next 24 countries COMBINED.

Highlights of the proposed bill:

* It applies only to those prisoners who are serving their first prison sentence.

* It provides an additional 25% credit to verified honorably discharged military veterans.

* Previous bills required the forfeiture of credit for months in which the prisoner received a major misconduct. Our proposal takes it a step further, and requires the forfeiture of credit in months the prisoner receives a single major misconduct, or two or more minor misconducts.

* Prisoners who refuse to work toward earning at least a G.E.D. will not earn the credit. Elderly prisoners and prisoners with learning disabilities will be exempt.

* Prisoners who are removed from, or who refuse to participate in mandated programs will not earn credits.

* Prisoners who are terminated from MDOC jobs will not earn credits for that month.

* Prisoners will not earn credit while they are classified as "STG." Security Threat Group is the designation for individuals involved in gangs or gang activity.

* Prisoners will not earn credits while they are housed in a higher level security unit than what his or her actual security level is.

* We believe that the changes prisoners will be required to make in order to earn credit toward early release will have a subconscious effect on their fundamental values and beliefs that will go with them when they leave prison.

* We believe that this program will better prepare individuals to become productive members of society. It will not only help them to recognize the difference between what is right and wrong LEGALLY, but also ETHICALLY.

Impact on the State of Michigan:

* The State spends approximately $37,000 per year on a healthy prisoner. But due to the lengthy sentences imposed by Michigan courts, the average age of prisoners is rapidly increasing every year. This increase in age directly impacts the costs associated with the healthcare of those prisoners. Again, no sustainability.

* The average budget for a Michigan prison is $37 million dollars. The average prison houses 1200 prisoners. If over the next five years this bill resulted in the release of 5,000 prisoners, the approximate savings to the state would be around $333 million dollars.

* Even doubling Michigan's current 4.6% rate of unemployment, the same 5,000 prisoners mentioned above, would result in an additional 4,540 tax payers added to the Michigan work force.

Please know that we certainly realize that this problem is going to require comprehensive reform. It is going to take more than just this lone idea. But isn't this at least a starting point. The world has changed so much in the last 41 years. Shouldn't our ideas of what the criminal justice system is supposed to be about reflect those same changes?

Are these men and women not worth rehabilitating? How many of you have ever been given a second chance? Shouldn't our sense of humanity guide us to do the same for them?

Thank you in advance for your support.

Please know that we also welcome comments and discussion on why you might


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