Advocates urge productivity credits for state inmates shortening prison sentences

Under current Michigan law, before an inmate can be released, he or she must complete their minimum sentence.

At a State House hearing Tuesday, supporters of the so-called productivity credit program want inmates to leave early if they complete job training and education programs.

"These are common sense proven anti-crime bills," said Priscilla Bordayo, advocate. "Productivity credits are proven incentives for incarcerated people to participate in rehabilitation programming like jobs and education training.

"These rehabilitation programs have been proven to reduce recidivism so that people are less likely to re-offend and improve safety."

But various law enforcement entities argue that crime victims need certainty in sentencing in order to heal.

"For many of the victims where somebody does get sentenced, they are going to serve a for-sure number (of years) and for them that's good, and that for the next 20 years, they don't have to worry about that person," said Robert Stevenson, Michigan Police Chiefs Association.

Another opponent argues that all sorts of dangerous criminals, including arsonists, would be eligible to reduce their time behind bars under this plan. Representative Graham Filler is on the Criminal Justice Committee.

"Some of these crimes included domestic violence, arson, attempted murder - you can cut into your sentence, and get out early," said Filler (R-93rd District).

Proponents of the legislation contend that victims will be notified if a sentence is reduced.

And this crime victim survivor argues the current release program from the state, has barriers that inhibit criminals from making it on the outside. She says that she will feel safer if this plan passes.

"These barriers make it much more likely that they will return to a life of crime," said Elle Travis. "These incentives work. They turn lives around, they keep people out of trouble."

At this reading, it is unclear if the votes are there to alter the prison release timeline.  

File photo

File photo