Criminal justice reforms signed by Gov. Snyder

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday approved a bipartisan criminal justice package that seeks to reform the entire system by providing resources that would assist in reducing recidivism rates and helping prisoners transition back to society.

“The vast majority of the 42,000 people currently in our state’s prison system will one day be released and return to our communities,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “The bills focus largely on rehabilitation as a way to keep costs down, as well as provide prisoners with better opportunities after being released.”

The legislation will make reforms throughout the entire criminal justice system. The multi-bill package addresses issues concerning prisoners, individuals who are on probation or parole, and those working on integrating back into society.

Among the reforms included in the package are ways to expedite medical commutation hearings and encourage volunteer programs that can better prepare prisoners for their transition back to society.

The legislation would also reform the probation process by limiting the revocation time that a probation violator would serve for technical violations, allowing judges to shorten a probation term as a result of good behavior and offering an incentive to probation agents and supervisors to keep probationers on a good path.

Schuitmaker says these reforms will ensure that taxpayer resources are dedicated to protecting society from the most dangerous criminals.

“Our criminal justice system relies on the premise that the time spent in prison will leave a lasting impression and motivate prisoners, helping prevent them from engaging in behavior that could send them back,” she said. “Unfortunately, what we are seeing is increased recidivism rates and an overcrowded prison system that takes away resources from the truly dangerous inmates.”

Thursday’s bill signing took place at the Walnut & Park Café in Kalamazoo. The café is a project of the Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program and employs probationers and parolees.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality photograph of Schuitmaker at Thursday’s bill singing is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.