How is the Michigan Department of Corrections planning to cut another $100 million from its budget? Not through reduction of programming or staff cuts, but by paroling and recommending commutations for some of the thousands of chronically ill and dying inmates.
There are both moral and economic justifications for this plan. The sickest 300 individuals cost the state’s general fund more than $30 million last year alone; their care in the community costs less and provides eligibility for federal aid.
It seems that Michigan is handling this transition responsibly. As part of the Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative, the Michigan Department of Corrections is piloting a program in Muskegon that has so far helped 200 parolees. According to The Detroit Free Press, “The program will go statewide at a cost of $3 million over the next 3 years to help make sure sick inmates get proper placements, insurance and medical care.” Michigan’s Re-Entry Initiative has also reduced recidivism rates in the past two years by helping parolees find housing, jobs, and transportation.
Inmates seem to appreciate the way things are being handled. From The Detroit Free Press:
"It's some comfort knowing you're going to get some help out there," James McClendon, 31, "I feel like this gives me a chance to walk the straight and narrow."
Curtis Johnson, 45: "They made sure I had what I needed, and they were very professional. This is the first place that I've been treated like a human being."
[Photo by Randbild]