This year, for example, state policymakers approved some reforms to Connecticut’s corrections system—one of the biggest parts of the state budget.
But as the work of the Connecticut Regional Institute for the 21st Century suggests, more can be done to achieve efficiencies in the corrections system, reduce costs and maintain public safety.
That’s why the success of Michigan’s prison reform program should be encouraging to reform- and budget-minded policymakers in our state.
Results in Michigan show that innovation can, in fact, produce both good fiscal and social results. Bloomberg Businessweek reported this week that Michigan’s Prisoner ReEntry Initiative program has, in six years:
- Reduced recidivism by 27%
- Reduced the state’s prison population by 16%
- Cut the system’s budget by $315 million
- Closed 21 state facilities
The program includes several components, including annual progress evaluations when someone is incarcerated, and close monitoring and counseling when they are released or paroled.
It’s a level of involvement that does cost Michigan, but ends up saving the state even more while also helping men and women regain productive lives.
Most important, the reforms have been accompanied by a reduction in crime in the state, according to the program.
Controlling state spending and adopting reforms in many aspects of government –such as long-term care, corrections, government retiree benefits, municipal shared services and nonprofit provision of state-run community services--will help Connecticut provide vital public services in a sustainable way, and avoid additional tax increases that would hurt our economy.