The proposed appropriation will provide a higher reimbursement rate from the state to local jurisdictions for community-based treatment options for youth involved with or at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system.
“Kids do best when connected to and supported by their families, schools, and communities,” said Jason Smith, Executive Director of MCYJ. “We thank Governor Whitmer for ensuring that communities have the resources to support young people with evidence-based treatment options proven to work. With increased funding, treatment providers can innovate in expanding their service menu to ensure that young people across Michigan receive age and developmentally-appropriate treatment to address their needs and support their ability to thrive.”
The budget also includes:
- Juvenile Justice Services Division in State Court Administrative Office: $2 million to “coordinate the implementation of risk/needs and detention screening and assessment tools, provide technical assistance in the local implementation of policies, programs, and practices, and coordinate statewide court policies, funding, and data collection.”
- Juvenile Justice Appellate Defense: The budget proposal allocates just over $500,000 to the State Appellate Defender Office to create a juvenile appellate defense unit.
Front End (holistic public safety, police, courts)
The question of how to best promote public safety remains a key concern for lawmakers and the public alike, and the recent murders of Tyre Nichols and Patrick Lyoya highlight the problems with relying on police as the key driver of public safety.
The governor’s budget has a mix of supporting public safety alternatives as well as doubling-down on current policing approaches. Here’s what’s in there:
- Office of Community Violence Intervention Services: Includes $800,000 to create the Office of Community Violence Intervention to distribute grants annually to community violence prevention partners and $8 million of one-time funds for community grants to support already existing violence intervention programs.
- Police Training: The budget proposes $18 million of ongoing funds for police training to maintain their licensure. The budget brief notes that “the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards will develop and implement in-service training requirements with consideration be given to subject areas including but not limited to behavioral health, and diversity, equity, and inclusion,” but these standards are not yet in place and it is not clear if there will be any requirements that the funding addresses these training goals.
- Trooper Recruit School: Governor Whitmer proposed $4 million ongoing; $5 million one-time to graduate 50 new state troopers to “increase the number of state troopers deployed across the state while continuing to make the department more representative of the communities it serves.”
Another part of the front-end of our criminal legal system is our court system. Related to courts the budget includes:
- Indigent Defense Grants: The budget includes $72 million in ongoing funds for indigent defense (a.k.a. public defenders), including funding to ensure adequate compensation for public defense attorneys.
- Conviction Integrity Unit: Gov. Whitmer proposes a $1 million allocation to the Attorney General’s office to create a conviction integrity unit to investigate claims of innocence with the possibility of overturning convictions.
- Job courts for disadvantaged offenders: The budget proposes $5 million funding for “job courts.” These will strive to divert people “from [the] criminal justice system by providing jobs and services.” Problem solving courts like this have had mixed reviews, especially for people charged with low-level crimes. Some argue that they address the root causes by helping people access services and potentially avoid a felony record. Others argue that they can result in longer total jail stays and that meeting these human service needs is best done completely separately from the criminal legal system.
- Court transparency funding: Included in the proposal is $4.5 million for “data collection and quality assessment, improved data collection, reporting and analysis, and publication of court data through a public portal.” Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw, a MI-CEMI member with a lot of experience trying to access court records for transparency and accountability, commends the work on accountability and identifies issues to track and the process moves on.
Length of Stay
Numerous legislative proposals have been proposed to address Michigan’s excessive and punitive prison sentences, but that is not reflected in the Governor’s budget. The only proposal related to length of stay is:
- Juvenile Life Without Parole Resentencing: The governor proposes funding both prosecutors and appellate defenders “to support the continued resentencing of juvenile offenders who are serving life without parole in accordance with U.S. Supreme Court and recent Michigan Supreme Court decisions.” The budget proposes $2.5 million for the State Appellate Defender Office and $3.2 million for grants to local prosecutors’ offices for the resentencing process.
Prison Conditions & Programming
A majority of people incarcerated in Michigan will be returning to their communities, so it is essential to have policies that reduce the trauma and harm in prison and that help prepare incarcerated people for a successful reentry. These policies promote public safety, improve working conditions for corrections workers, and uphold the human rights of incarcerated people.
- Body-worn cameras for prison staff: Citizens for Prison Reform has been advocating for body cams for corrections officers for years. This year’s budget proposes $7.1 million for body cams for corrections officers, including “outfitting, evidence/data storage, licensing, warranties, and operational support to manage recorded evidence, devices, and user access.”
- Medication assisted treatment: Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an effective, evidence-based technique for managing substance use disorder. The budget proposes $15 million to expand MAT to four prison sites, each with the capacity to treat 400 patients. Funding includes medication, medical and recovery coaching staff, and additional costs for the program. The budget also includes $3.9 million for corrections officers to “provide the necessary custody coverage to ensure that drugs are not diverted.”
- Specialized Investigative Division: The MDOC portion of the budget also includes $3.3 million to establish a unit “focusing on investigations of alleged sexual abuse of prisoners and allegations of discriminatory harassment and retaliation in the workplace.”
While some of the housing, human services, and workforce programs included in the governor’s budget are part of the reentry system, our review of the proposed budget does not include any new investments targeted specifically at reentry.
What’s not in the budget
- Movement trackers: The previous MDOC budget called for movement tracking devices to provide constant monitoring of the positions of incarcerated people in MDOC prisons. This proposal faced significant pushback, and was not sought in this budget.
- Expanded digital access: Last year’s budget included a request for funding to provide devices to all people in custody. The primary justification was to provide an online system for requests to attend programming, file grievances, access medical care, etc. The devices would also have improved access to online learning opportunities. This request was only partially funded in the previous budget cycle, and the Governor did not propose closing that shortfall.
- Improved prison food and nutrition: Our members report that low-quality food and inadequate nutrition in prisons results in behavioral and health problems. In an article on Gongwer News Service, Sen. Jeff Irwin noted that improved nutrition could reduce long-term prison healthcare costs.
To stay informed about ongoing policy work to end mass incarceration in Michigan: