Michigan: State of Imprisonment?

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Much of our learning comes from comparisons. So, regarding Michigan's prison system, consider the following comparisons:

  • Michigan currently confines 570 individuals per 100,000 residents.
  • The average for other states is 542 per 100,000 residents.
  • The United Kingdom has 146 inmates per 100,000.
  • Australia has 144 per 100,000.
  • Canada has 118 per 100,000. 
  • France has 100 per 100,000.
  • Germany has 76 per 100,000.

The total number of inmates in Michigan is 43,759. Consider that Canada's total population, 35 million, is 3.5 times the population of Michigan, yet Canada's total inmate population is less than 41,000.

These are only some of the realities of Michigan's state of imprisonment...

*Figures were supplied by Ken Braun in the Grand Rapids Press, June 9, 2015.

Do Michigan's citizens behave ten times as badly their Canadian neighbors? 

If our prison population could be conformed to the average of Canada, our state would save $1 billion, not to mention human suffering implied in these figures.

One may wonder what lies behind these distressful figures. Governor Snyder has proposed reforming of Michigan's criminal justice system. It is generally thought that not much will come of it, if alone because of the massive opposition of those in the system. 

There is a painful irony here. Conservative voters in Michigan insist on strict law enforcement. So those in office will make that a plank in their platform, toting it as a sign of political excellence.

Here's a bit of advice from Ken Braun, "Limited government conservatives should like nothing better than to reduce the bloated prison spending." 

What do you think? How do we deal with the realities of our state of imprisonment?

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