Smart justice reforms find unlikely ally in business community


From the Detroit Free Press:

“We are putting too many low-level, nonviolent offenders behind bars for too long, depriving them of any chance for success. And when they return to society, as more than 95% of them will, we are often returning better criminals, not better citizens.

On a positive note, state leaders on the right and the left are beginning to recognize the deficiencies in the old tough-on-crime policies and instead supporting smart-on-crime initiatives. A parole reform bill passed the state House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan vote last year, but died in the Senate. In 2016, this legislation returned and again passed the House, while a multi-bill reform package passed the Senate unanimously. Unfortunately, the House and Senate appear to be in a standoff over which chamber should move first to send the other chamber’s legislation to the governor’s office.

Recognizing we are running out of time, an unlikely chorus of voices is rising up to demand that the Legislature put aside petty political issues and move these reforms to final passage: the Michigan business community.

You may wonder why business leaders would care about what some view as a purely “social justice” issue. First, similar reforms in other states have proven to save hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars. That’s money that could be better put to use in education, training, and infrastructure improvement, issues all very important to a healthy Michigan.”

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