Van Buren County Gets Grant For Swift and Sure

Law Enforcement Endorsement PicWSJM – Radio

Jason Scott Reporting

The Swift and Sure Probation Program is expanding. State Senator John Proos says Van Buren County has accepted a $250,000 grant to set it up, making it the third county in Southwest Michigan to establish the cost-saving program.

Berrien County has had the program for three years. Since its inception positive drug tests have fallen by 70%. Cass County received over $280,000 to establish a similar system back in February.

Honored to be Named Legislator of the Year by Michigan Police Chiefs

Proos_Leg. of the YearThroughout my time in public service, I have worked to improve Michigan’s economy, create jobs and ensure our government fulfills its core function of keeping our families safe.

As a father, I take my responsibility to heart. That is why I was especially honored to be named Legislator of the Year by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP).

Berrien Springs chief of police Milt Agay presented me with the honor in recognition of my cooperative work with law enforcement agencies and my leadership on key public safety issues, including enactment of the Swift and Sure program and increased supervision of parolees.

I sponsored Senate Bill 1315 to give police officers the authority, already given to parole officers, to search any of the more than 18,000 parolees in Michigan at any time and without first needing to get a warrant. The new law enables our police to help provide more supervision of parolees and enhanced protection of our communities while also reducing the costs of the state prison system.

I also brought to Michigan a successful program that helped significantly reduce crime and drug use by probationers in Hawaii, saving the state millions of dollars.

Michigan’s Swift and Sure program supervises high-risk probationers and requires frequent, random drug and alcohol testing. The results are better outcomes for both the offender and the taxpayer. After seeing the positive results of the program in places like Berrien County, I worked to make the pilot program permanent.

While it is an honor to be recognized by the men and women leading our local police departments, the real reward is a safe neighborhood to raise my children.

Expanded Program Helping Reduce Prison Costs While Protecting Public

Law Enforcement Endorsement PicMichigan spends too much on its prison system, especially when compared to neighboring states.

In an ongoing effort to reduce our costs without jeopardizing public safety, I created the Swift and Sure Sanctions Program based on a Hawaiian program with a record of reducing crime and drug use by probationers and saving taxpayer dollars.

Probationers in Hawaii’s HOPE program were less likely to use drugs, be arrested for a new crime, skip appointments with their supervisory officer or have their probation revoked. The result was they also served or were sentenced to almost half the number of days in prison. I included the program in the Fiscal Year 2012 state budget as a pilot project for areas with combined courts or drug courts.

In the current FY 2013 budget, I expanded it to allow more counties to apply, and in January the governor signed my legislation to make the pilot program permanent.

I am pleased to announce that 11 counties are now participating in the program, up from only four counties in 2011-12. In Southwest Michigan, Cass and Kalamazoo counties have joined Berrien County with Swift and Sure programs.

This progress is great news for taxpayers, because it is estimated that the program could save Michigan taxpayers $25 million every year once expanded statewide.

The Swift and Sure program supervises high-risk probationers and requires frequent, random drug and alcohol testing so that treatment decisions are based on behavior.

It is a system that helps offenders return to productive lives, keeps our communities safe and costs less money – enabling us to focus our resources on other key priorities.

Senate Passes Proos’ “Swift and Sure” Program

WSJM – Radio

The state Senate has approved legislation from Senator John Proos to create what’s called the “Swift and Sure” program for parolees and those on probation. Proos says it’s based on a successful program out of Hawaii that cut the crime rate and drug use by probationers.

The St. Joseph Republican said not only will the program help those who are out of jail by giving them support to prevent more crime, it will also save the Michigan Department of Corrections money. Proos says the 2012 fiscal year’s budget included “Swift and Sure” as a pilot program for counties that have combined criminal and drug courts, and now in the 2013 budget, more counties will be able to apply for the program if the bills pass the House and are signed by Governor Snyder.


We Can Protect Public Safety While Reducing Prison Costs

I believe that we must be innovative in how our state operates, look to see what is working in other states, and bring those proven ideas to Michigan.

That is why I introduced legislation to create a “Swift and Sure” sanctions program in Michigan that will ensure public safety in a more cost-effective manner.

The program is based on a successful Hawaiian initiative that helped reduce crime and drug use by probationers while saving taxpayer dollars.

In one year, probationers in Hawaii’s Honest Opportunity with Probation Enforcement (HOPE) program were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime, 72 percent less likely to use drugs and 53 percent less likely to have their probation revoked than the control group. As a result, they also averaged 48 percent fewer days behind bars.

I worked to include the program in the current state budget as a pilot project for areas like Berrien County with combined courts or drug courts.

I was also successful in expand it in the recently approved 2013 budget to allow more counties to apply.

My proposal would make the pilot project a permanent program to supervise high-risk probationers and require them to undergo frequent, random drug and alcohol testing.

It is part of my ongoing effort to bring our prison costs in line with our surrounding states. If expanded statewide, the program could save taxpayers $25 million annually, funding that could be used for other priorities, like improving education and spurring job creation.

My goal is a justice system that keeps our communities safe, helps offenders return to productive lives and costs less money. Swift and Sure can be an important component towards accomplishing that objective.

Proos Promotes Reading and Listening

By John Eby

Dowagiac Daily News

March 26, 2012

CASSOPOLIS – State Sen. John Proos practiced what he preached to kindergarteners Monday afternoon at Sam Adams Elementary School.

Proos, R-St. Joseph, read “Click Clack Moo — Cows That Type” by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, about Farmer Brown’s cows’ demands when they find a typewriter in the barn and go on strike, joined by hens withholding eggs. It wins out over the Michigan-made wildlife photo book “Lost in the Woods” and “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss, whose birthday leads off March Reading Month. Students’ kites fly on one corridor, tails telling how many tales each read.

Sam Adams is home to 572 students grades K-6 with two enclosed playgrounds. Proos graduated from Lake Michigan Catholic High School in 1988. He and Kristy have three children, who also include Jack, third grade; and Elena, fourth grade.

“I read to my kids every night,” the lawmaker said, emphasizing that reading at school is only half their job.

Children ask if Proos knows President Barack Obama. “I was at a breakfast with him in February, but I have not met him. He’s almost as tall as I am (6-foot-3), but he’s got a better jump shot. President (George W.) Bush is shorter, 6-foot-1. His dad is taller, 6-foot-4. President Clinton and I are about the same height.”

Proos looks like he’s empaneling a grand jury when he directs each student to raise their right hand to swear they will practice reading every day, including summer.

“Computers help” him do his job. So does his Taurus commuting between the 21st Distict of Cass, Berrien and Van Buren counties and Lansing. “But the most important thing I do in my job,” a boy named Logan guesses, is listening.

“I learn when I’m listening and show respect to others,” Proos said.

Proos switches to listening mode for a tour, which, thanks to a $16 million bond, added two new wings for fall — one for kindergarten and first grade classrooms and another two-story wing for second through sixth grade rooms; 31 new rooms were added to the former high school.

The bond ushered new technology into classrooms, including interactive whiteboards, laptops, document cameras, iPads and surround sound systems in each classroom. Lower grades rolled into Sam Adams from Frank Squires, which will house the administration, making Red Brick School expendable.

Proos peaks in on fifth graders creating dinosaur PowerPoint presentations.

Principal DeeAnn Melville-Voss, a former Miss Cass County who has been with the district for 22 years, including as a teacher and coach, decorated her office in an inviting pirate motif, including a life-size cutout of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow from the four-film franchise, “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Proos, who oversees the $2 billion corrections budget, shares with librarian Jean Porath, who divides her time between Sam Adams and the junior/senior high, his frustration that prison libraries seem better staffed, with a librarian, assistant librarian and librarian supervisor. “That makes no sense to me.”

Porath, a Dowagiac graduate who has been integrating 15,000 to 20,000 volumes 2½ days a week with a paraprofessional, asks, “Can I have that many people?” Voss treats sixth-graders as mentors for younger students. “They take being leaders of the school very seriously.”

Proos chats with third-grade teacher Joan Potter, who expects her daughter in Texas to make her a grandmother over spring break. He wonders about correlation between “a big new beautiful building” and parent engagement.

“They want to take care of the building and their children to have Ranger Pride,” Voss said, “and focus on positives — not negatives. We offer support and help — values like we were raised with. Parents know I and my very caring staff are here to take care of the kids, who need this quiet and structure.”

“You can feel it when you come in” after ringing the buzzer, Proos said.

Safe Communities are Vital to Job Creation and Quality of Life

Gov. Rick Snyder recently gave a Special Message to the Legislature on Public Safety, in which he noted Michigan has four of the top ten most violent cities in the entire nation. A recent study showed that homicides in these four cities cost Michigan taxpayers more than $1.6 billion.

It is a reminder that a violent crime devastates a family and impacts the entire state. Improving public safety will help protect our loved ones, create jobs and free up funds for other priorities like education and roads.

These four cities are not so different from many Southwest Michigan communities that are also experiencing problems with crime.

Although we have come a long way toward energizing our economy, areas with high crime rates are not going to be able to attract new job providers.

Safe communities are vital to economic growth and job creation.

Businesses will not invest in an area if they cannot expect a secure environment; and families will not settle in a place where their children are not safe to learn and play.

I applaud the governor for focusing on the most basic need for growth, which is safety and security in our own communities.

I am especially pleased that he is addressing the problem of drug and alcohol offenders entering the prison system over and over again. Ending the cycle of recidivism will help protect Southwest Michigan families and save taxpayer dollars.

I look forward to continuing to work with the governor to reduce crime, ensure the safety of our communities and help bring new investment and jobs to our state.

Prisoner “Trophies” Wrong

It has come to my attention that a prisoner in the State of Michigan was recently allowed to display a “trophy”, or souvenir of his crime, in his prison cell.  This is unacceptable and a slap in the face to innocent victims and their families. 

“Trophy” items can include photographs, articles of clothing or other items from a criminal act.

I believe allowing prisoners to display these keepsakes is disgusting and is the reason I co-sponsored legislation to prohibit prisoners from receiving or having in their cell any item that belonged to the criminal’s victim or any photograph, drawing or other visual image representing his victim.

My reform is about ensuring that Michigan’s corrections system remains focused on adjusting behavior and punishing criminal offenses against communities across the state. The bill does allow for an exemption in a case where the victim is an immediate family member and the prisoner has permission of that family member.

Senate Bill 645 was introduced at the request of a Michigan municipal police department after a prisoner, convicted of a sexual offense, was discovered by the victim’s family to have a picture of his victim in his prison cell. When the family asked that the photograph be removed, they were informed that a judge would have to set a no contact order to include photos and that this would’ve had to have been done before the sentencing of the criminal.

Michigan has long been a leader in the area of crime victim’s rights. This case is an example of oversight in the law that must be fixed. No victim or victim’s family should be subjected to this type of inappropriate behavior.

Corrections Budget Cuts $101 Million

The Senate Appropriations Department of Corrections subcommittee approved a 2012 budget that spends $101 million less than the DOC’s current budget and $75 million less than the governor proposed.

The plan is the result of hard work to eliminate wasteful spending and make the department more efficient.

As chair of the subcommittee, public safety continues to be my number one priority. I am proud that we crafted a budget that will keep violent felons off the street and also help solve the state’s budget deficit.

Savings can be found throughout all state government. For example, the DOC has identified $42 million in savings that will cover their previous overspending.

It is a positive sign for taxpayers, and I look forward to working with the department to find the savings our taxpayers deserve.

This budget saves millions of dollars through supply-chain efficiencies, administrative reductions and addressing prescription drug management problems identified by the state auditor general.

Senate Bill 173 also includes $1 million to work cooperatively with the drug courts on a new pilot program of swift-and-sure sanctions for certain probation violations, to ensure public safety in a cost-efficient manner.

Currently Michigan has the highest per-prisoner costs in the Great Lakes region.  Spending 94 dollars per prisoner per day compared to the average Great Lakes state which spends about 75 dollars per prisoner per day.  We cannot continue spending more on corrections than higher education. This plan is a first step to seriously addressing those costs and right-sizing our prison spending.

Pattern of Mismanaged Spending

The nonpartisan auditor general has uncovered a pattern of mismanagement and waste in two of Michigan’s largest state departments.

Last October, I told you about more than $800 million in questionable expenditures from the Department of Human Services.

At the time, this was the fourth such report highlighting serious concerns that went unaddressed by the department.

Unfortunately, a recent audit of the Department of Community Health has uncovered $4.4 BILLION in questionable expenditures. This state department is responsible for improving and protecting public health. It’s absolutely unsatisfactory for any department to fail to complete their duties, but it is beyond comprehension for more than $4 billion in spending to go unchecked.

Not only are there serious concerns about fiscal restraint in these departments, the DCH audit uncovered serious allegations of physical abuse ignored by the department.

Unfortunately, as with DHS, 60 percent of the audit were findings that the department had been asked to address before. In my mind, this is a pattern of mismanagement and corruption that must stop.

Clearly these departments are failing to meet the needs of Michigan citizens, and I will keep working to make sure they are held accountable to the taxpayer and the vulnerable citizens they are entrusted to protect.