Michigan 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.