Skubick: Lawmakers claim progress in numbers of parolees returning to prisons

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – State officials are claiming success in reducing the number of prison inmates who are paroled but commit a crime and return to prison.

Tonight there’s one key lawmaker suggesting a 30 percent recidivism rate may be the best we can hope for.

A national study shows that over the last nine years there’s been a 43 percent drop in the rate of Michigan paroles who commit crimes and end up back in prison.

State lawmakers point to a beefed-up program to retrain inmates once they get out.

“Years ago we didn’t have any programs that helped these folks after they got out,” says State Senator Vincent Gregory. “They didn’t have any education and they turned back to what they knew. Now we have some way to educate them.”

A national study shows that the number of crimes committed by parolees has dropped by 20 percent but state correction officials report the recidivism rate hovers around 30 percent.

Or put another way, for every ten inmates on parole, three of them will commit a crime. Is that acceptable?

Sen. Rick Jones “It’s never acceptable to have any recidivism but that’s much lower then it’s been in the past.”

The Republican lawmaker who works on the Corrections budget says tax dollars are being saved and lives are turned around by making sure inmates don’t return to prison.

“Those dividends are found because the prison population is going down, better lives are coming about and the revolving door is at least slowing down,” says State Sen. John Proos. “Now that’s good progress.”

But the senator warns concerned citizens that it may not get lower than the current 30 percent. “I don’t know if we can get below 30 percent. That could be our bottom.”

The legislature is wrapping up the budget and we’ll know then how many of your tax dollars will be saved by these programs.

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