In 2017, Michigan had the fewest prison commitments (8,656) since 1986 and the lowest prison population (39,666) since 1993, after peaking in 2006. Men of color made up 46% of the male prison population, despite making up only 22% of Michigan’s adult male population. Reducing the overall prison population and narrowing racial disparities need to be essential objectives for public policy and for state corrections budgeting. In the corrections appropriations budget, adequate investments in rehabilitation programs, mental health services and alternatives to prison are some of the ways policymakers can help move Michigan toward progress. As with many other budgets, the final corrections budget will depend on outcomes between the governor and the Legislature about revenues needed to fund necessary road repairs as well as basic services.
Governor: Prison population and costs remain essentially flat. The governor proposed maintaining current prison operations funding at $1.1 billion to house approximately 39,000 prisoners. Since 2006, the prison population has declined significantly and the state responded by closing two prisons in 2018 (West Shoreline in Muskegon in March and Ojibway in Marenisco in December).
Senate and House: The Senate and House both concurred with the governor’s recommendation for prison facilities funding.
Education, Skilled Trades and Career Readiness
Governor: The governor recommended $40.3 million for programs that help prepare prisoners for work upon their release, reducing the likelihood of recidivism and helping them to lead stable and fulfilling lives, as part of its “offender success” programming. This is a slight decrease from the current year’s $41 million. The governor eliminated the Goodwill Flip-the-Script program, which is currently funded at $1.5 million, but maintained funding for other training programs such as Vocational Village within the overall education, skilled trades and career readiness line item.
Senate: The Senate concurs with the governor’s funding levels and program eliminations, but left in a $100 placeholder for Flip-the-Script to enable funding to be put in during conference committee.
House: The House concurred with the governor’s funding levels and program eliminations.
Governor: The governor maintained $1.5 million for the Residential Alternative to Prison program, which provides vocational, educational and cognitive programming for probation violators who might otherwise be sentenced to prison.
Senate: The Senate eliminated funding for this program.
House: The House concurred with the governor’s spending on the program.
Governor: The governor reduced total funding for prison healthcare by $2.3 million, to $310.3 million, with most of the reduction reflecting savings due to the closing of two prisons. The governor did not increase mental health services and support, but folded substance abuse treatment funding into mental health services for a total of $51.1 million. The governor also increased funding for Healthy Michigan Plan administration by $8,000 and more than doubled funding for Hepatitis C treatment from $6.7 million to $13.7 million.
Senate: The Senate reduced total prison healthcare spending by $16.3 million, in-cluded the governor’s rolling of $21.4 million for substance abuse treatment and services into mental health services, reduced Healthy Michigan Plan spending by $16,600 and included no new spending on Hepatitis C treatment.
House: The House reduced total funding for prison healthcare by $16.5 million, larger than the governor’s reduction primarily because of smaller increases to some programs and a $142,000 reduction in Healthy Michigan Plan spending. Like the governor, the House rolled the $21.4 million in substance abuse treatment and services spending into mental health services, but the House added only $100 to current Hepatitis C spending to create a point of difference for conference committee discussion.
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