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"Tough On Crime" Law Increases Michigan Crime Rates

Despite the increased use of prison as a criminal sanction, nearly every category of violent crime rose from 1981 to 1991. In the past decade, Michigan's legislature has passed many "tough on crime" laws and quadrupled the state's corrections budget, according to a study by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency (MCCD).

An MCCD report listed dozens of laws approved by the state legislature since 1981, increasing penalties for many types of crimes. As a result, the State Department of Correction's budget has climbed from $225 million in Fiscal Year 1981-82 to more than $1 billion in FY 1992-93. Despite the massive increases in spending, three new state prisons remained empty due to a lack of operating funds.

According to the study, it is clear that criminal justice policy continues to be developed and implemented in Michigan without regard either to effectiveness or cost. In the current legislative session, bills have been introduced to establish mandatory prison terms for burglary, abolish minimum sentence reductions for good behavior, sentence juvenile offenders as adults, and impose additional mandatory penalties for substance abuse.

MCCD called for a moratorium on further crime legislation until sentencing guidelines are developed by an independent panel to replace the current piecemeal system. Community-based sentencing options and crime prevention programs should also be developed, the organization said. No legislation should be approved unless there has been a final impact study, MCCD added.

Source: Corrections Compendium

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