We can boast about “throwing away the key,” about “an eye for an eye,” about “life means life in Michigan,” about tough sentences in the war on drugs. My contention is that Michigan's record of keeping people in prison longer than any other state is immoral. But whether you agree or not, you cannot dispute the fact that it's costly. It's costly to each one of us who resides in Pure Michigan.
Fact: Michigan has the longest average incarceration rate, with an average time served of 4.3 years.
Fact: That's 3 years more than a stay in South Dakota prisons.
Fact: Michigan imposes especially long sentences for drug crimes...2nd highest in the nation.
Fact: Change of length of stay in Michigan prisons has jumped 79% since 1990.
Fact: Cost to Michigan of keeping prisoners longer is about $472 million.
Fact: This extra cost per prisoner is greater than any other state in the nation.
Here's the thing: the above information is not just a series of statistics, and shame on us if we look at it that way. We're talking about people here: people who have families, people whose emotions and feelings don't differ much from yours and mine, people who someday will be back in our society.
It's time to communicate this to your state legislator.
It's past time to start making changes.