2017-05-17 / Guest Views

Criminal Justice Reform: Smart on crime, soft on taxpayers


Throughout my four-plus years in the state legislature, my colleagues and I have explored numerous options to improve our criminal justice and prison system. We have seen success with the passage of various reforms during my tenure, but the job is not yet complete.

This term, as chair of the House Committee on Law and Justice, I am working with my colleagues to make further improvements to our prison system and criminal justice system to enhance public safety and save our taxpayers money.

For too long, the narrative has been framed as being either tough or soft on crime. This narrative has led to the creation of more criminal laws, longer sentences and stiffer penalties. I am working with my colleagues, the Michigan Department of Corrections, attorneys, judges and victim advocacy groups to change the narrative to one that seeks policies that are SMART on crime and soft on taxpayers.

In my committee meeting on April 25, we hosted experts from throughout the country to speak on the national trend toward shorter prison stays and reduced crime rates. Each speaker was able to enlighten the committee on the important benefits of reform, and the diverse backgrounds showed that this is indeed an issue that both sides of the isle can come together on. They were also able to juxtapose the statistics from Michigan to other jurisdictions that have already made reform.

The state of Michigan currently spends $2 billion a year housing over 40,000 inmates in the prison system. Recent studies have shown that our state has the longest prison sentences in the nation. Unfortunately, longer sentences have not provided the desired outcomes of reduced crime, better rehabilitation and a safer public. Inmates are not receiving the rehabilitative programs that allow them to become productive members of society, and the longer an inmate is in prison, the higher the likelihood they act in a violent manner.

Other states, such as Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina, have implemented policy that reduces the length of prison sentences and increases the rehabilitative opportunities for inmates. These states have seen significant improvements in both the crime rate and recidivism rate, while also reducing prison population and thus the financial burden on taxpayers.

Using the example set by other states, we can implement policies that ensure the safe and secure rehabilitation of offenders. These reforms will keep dangerous offenders behind bars, but allow those who don’t pose a danger to the public to pay for their crimes, but also receive a sentence that will allow them to become productive members of society. The benefits are abundant for all involved. It is time to be smart on crime and soft on the Michigan taxpayer.

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When you read or hear the

When you read or hear the word "Smart" out of a politicians mouth that means Liberalism...Kesto IS a closet Liberal. Smart cars, smart TVs, smart buses, smart phones, smart political speak. What they really mean is... unfashionable, slick, cunning. How 'smart' of Kesto to figure out a way to allow criminals OUT of Prison...The "Smart" way....The "Soft Way". The druggies that just steals from you, holds you up, steals your car, breaks into your home to get money for their habit. Kesto even goes further into OTHER States for answers, yet he will not do so for newer laws for Condominiums built all over Michigan, for law abiding citizens who need NEW enforceable LAWS instead of outdated 1976 laws. Kesto has no time for widening the streets in his OWN district to handle traffic. Kesto has NO time for looking into sidewalks in his OWN district...Kesto is ONLY interested IN STATE politics....NOT his district.