Thursday, April 08, 2010

Michigan's new corrections mantra: "Get out and stay out"

While the Texas Legislature is not in session this year, other states are struggling to cut corrections budgets because of the budget slump, notably Michigan which has shut down ten prison units. Now their focus has gone from "lock 'em up" to "get out and stay out," reports the Detroit News ("Michigan prisons focus on released inmates," April 7):
Michigan's prison system has undergone a culture change from locking up law breakers for as long as possible to being more selective about whom to put behind bars, state Corrections Director Patricia Caruso told officials at a prisoner re-entry conference Tuesday.

The state closed 10 prisons last year and has curbed its inmate population from 51,500 to 45,000 since 2007, Caruso said. The number of women prisoners has been cut by 30 percent. That reverses a build-up trend that lasted a couple of decades.

"We went from a small prison system, a medium system, to a huge prison system because we could," Caruso said. She added there was "no push-back" because communities wanted the jobs that prisons provided and others "didn't have the political will to stop us."

The two-day conference at the Lansing Center is bringing together government, businesses, social services and faith-based groups that deal with integrating released felons back into society. The Corrections Department has only recently figured out it is part of the state's job to partner with these groups to make prisoner re-entry successful, Caruso said. The department has stepped up a program intended to keep released felons from committing new crimes.

"If we are not focused on get out and stay out, what are we here for?" she asked.
Good point about requiring a shift in culture at corrections agencies to focus on reentry, and I especially like the sound bite, "Get out and stay out."

As I write this, Texas prisons release about as many inmates every year as they take in - more than 72,000 statewide - and the largest jurisdictions actually get back more people from TDCJ than they send. If something hasn't occurred to change their behavior while they're inside, the whole project comes to look pretty pointless beyond the marginal benefits of temporary incapacitation.

8 comments:

kaptinemo said...

""We went from a small prison system, a medium system, to a huge prison system because we could," Caruso said. She added there was "no push-back" because communities wanted the jobs that prisons provided and others "didn't have the political will to stop us."

And what was the financial source of all this? The (literally!) spendthrift War on (Some) Drugs. And now that the money to run it is dwindling, like a bunch of drunks after a 30 year long binge, they're waking up with red, rheumy eyes and a splitting fiscal headache, wondering how they'll pay the bill for their excesses.

But you know what's really funny? She sounds like every severely addicted drug user I've ever known. The primary beneficiary of drug prohibition sounding just like one of drug prohibition's victims. The irony of it...

Anonymous said...

We turn you loose and we hope you stay out.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:23, that's certainly what's happening in the status quo, isn't it? - 72,000+ last year released in TX.

Michigan is applying resources to post-release supervision and reentry, which is a bit different that just "hoping" prison works while observing it often doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Maybe prisons are to easy or maybe we should just make drugs legal. After all its a personal choice just like booze, and smokes.

Anonymous said...

Michigan is applying resources to post-release supervision and reentry but the gang banger is loyal to his set. There is so much OPP (other people's property) that the banger stays busy.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"the banger stays busy"

And yet crime rates continue to decline. Funny, that. But hey, don't let reality get in the way of your prejudices.

Anonymous said...

The bangers have changed their stripes?

Boyness said...

Anonymous kaptinemo said...

""We went from a small prison system, a medium system, to a huge prison system because we could," Caruso said. She added there was "no push-back" because communities wanted the jobs that prisons provided and others "didn't have the political will to stop us."

And what was the financial source of all this? The (literally!) spendthrift War on (Some) Drugs. And now that the money to run it is dwindling, like a bunch of drunks after a 30 year long binge, they're waking up with red, rheumy eyes and a splitting fiscal headache, wondering how they'll pay the bill for their excesses.

But you know what's really funny? She sounds like every severely addicted drug user I've ever known. The primary beneficiary of drug prohibition sounding just like one of drug prohibition's victims. The irony of it...

4/08/2010 08:32:00 AM
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ABSOLUTELY F%@K!NG RIGHT!!!! AMEN!!!!