Gov. Jennifer Granholm and legislative leaders asked the Council of State Governments to review Michigan's criminal justice system and recommend cost savings. Those savings could be realized by reducing Michigan's prison population from nearly 48,500 inmates down to around 43,500, the report said.
Suggested legislation endorsed by key Republican and Democratic lawmakers would require the release of inmates who have served 120 percent of their minimum sentence, unless the parole board determines they pose a "very high risk" of committing new crimes.
The new law would not apply to current inmates nor to felons serving a maximum term of life for offenses including murder, rape, kidnapping, armed robbery or carjacking.
In other words, the worst offenders would stay behind bars where they should be and only a small amount (5,000 out of 48,500) would be eligible for early release. Mostly, the prosecutors just want to sound tough so they win their next election and don't really seem to mind that Michigan is once again facing a budget shortfall that could wipe out the types of programs that are built to actually prevent crime. In fact, the plan actually beefs up those programs. According to the Freep article on the study:
Also included in the group’s potential remedies are beefed-up law enforcement and crime lab capabilities, and increased training and job placement for offenders and disconnected young people.So, now we get the hysterical prison industrial complex saying that the "early" release (even though they will have served 120% of the minimum sentence) of these prisoners will jeopardize public safety and those same people will offer no remedies in fixing the state budget or the economy other than casting blame at the people who have in fact been making the tough decisions. The answer to public safety isn't to lock everyone up. The answer to patching yet another budget hole isn't passing tax cuts and building more prisons. The answer isn't to listen to a bunch of politicians who can make a name for themselves by sounding tough and taking the easy path to popularity. We need adults who can quit grandstanding and picking on society's bogeyman to pad their resumés and win reelection.
This all reminds me of a quote from the quotable H.L. Mencken:
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."