Jail and prison overcrowding task force makes recommendations

The Michigan Task Force on Jail and Prison Overcrowding, which included representatives of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan and other Law Enforcement representatives, presented their final report to Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Task Force members’ associations today in Lansing.

The Task Force also included representatives of the Michigan Association of Counties, the Michigan Department of Corrections, the Michigan Judges Association, the Michigan District Judges Association, the State Court Administrative Office, and the Defense Bar. The work of the Task Force was facilitated by a Principal from the Center for Effective Public Policy [on behalf of the National Institute of Corrections (NIC)]. In addition, information regarding national programs was presented to the Task Force by a representative from the Pretrial Services Resources Center.

"Members of the Task Force have worked diligently reviewing the capacity concerns of the state’s jails and prisons and have developed strategies for more effective and efficient utilization of jail and prison resources without compromising public safety," Teresa Bingman, Deputy Legal Counsel for the Governor and Chairperson of the Task Force said, "The Governor appreciates their efforts and is anxious to review the Task Force’s solutions to Michigan’s incarceration issues."

Michigan Department of Corrections Director Patricia L. Caruso said her department is prepared to consider many of the recommendations. "The Task Force has identified strategies to stabilize and ultimately reduce the growing jail and prison populations," said Caruso. "The report outlines the need for collaboration among the communities, state departments and local sheriff’s departments."

Some of the substantive strategies to criminal justice leaders and policy-makers from the Task Force include:

· Encourage rational planning and collaboration efforts between the state and counties that emphasize efficient and effective utilization of jail and prison resources, and that do not compromise pubic safety.

· Explore ways to increase the number of residential placement services for offenders who are in jail because there are no treatment or secure settings available.

· Encourage counties to enhance pretrial services programs by incorporating a validated risk and needs assessment tool, one of the least and cost-effective measures to ensure offender’s compliance. This tool will help determine an offender’s current risk of failure to appear or risk of recidivism when bond is set, and when the court utilizes new technology such as electronic monitoring.

· Encourage increased collaboration among courts, law enforcement, corrections and mental health agencies to identify, divert and treat mentally ill offenders.

· Assess county jail capacity in each jurisdiction to determine whether there is a need for expansion. Any recommendations should be based on an extensive analysis of the criminal justice system, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, and utilize a specialized work group (such as the Michigan Task Force on Jail and Prison Overcrowding) that is assisted by state or national criminal justice experts (such as the NIC or a similar organization). Moreover, recommendations should focus on providing flexible responses to a diverse offender population (e.g., gender, classification).

· Encourage counties to enhance jail services and diversion programs for mentally ill offenders, especially those awaiting forensic examination.

· Support the MDOC efforts to reduce recidivism through the Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative and encourage re-entry initiatives at local levels

A final copy of the report will be available on the michigan.gov Web site soon.


Michigan Department of Corrections FYI 03-17-05