IMPROVING PRISONS

Michigan has a high prison population because of a longer than average length of stay and a high rate of recidivism. To reduce crime and victimization, to reduce mass incarceration, and to reduce costs, we need to reform our system of parole, probation, and prisoner re-entry. But we also have to improve the conditions on the inside of Michigan prisons. Here are a few specific ways that I will advocate for better prisons:

  1. Continue to fight privatization of prisons
  2. Restore the use of "good time" by amending the truth-in-sentencing law
  3. Pass presumed-parole bills that make release the default position in parole decisions for inmates past their earliest release date
  4. Limit the use of administrative segregation
  5. In-source prison food service and end the failed experiment with private vendors
  6. Reduce overcrowding at the Huron Valley Women's Correctional Center by granting re-sentencing hearings to victims of domestic violence who are serving long sentences for killing their abusers

PRISONER RE-ENTRY

Michigan used to have a community-based prisoner re-entry system that served as a national model (MPRI). Most importantly, the Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative was successful in reducing recidivism. The program, which focused on connecting returning citizens with housing and employment, reduced three-year recidivism rates by 35%. By that measure alone, the program paid for itself. But Governor Snyder ended the program in his first year, and the community-based work that supported successful connections with landlords and employers ended. If elected, I will fight to:

  1. Restore communitybased prisoner re-entry funding
  2. Restore community-based governance over re-entry services

WAR ON DRUGS

I believe that we should end the failed War on Drugs. I believe that we will reduce addiction and victimization if we treat drug abuse as a public health problem and not a criminal justice problem. In brief, prohibition makes the problems caused by drugs worse, and it creates a host of problems of its own. In the past, I have worked to decrminalize and then legalize cannabis. I have built bi-partisan coalitions to reform asset forfeiture and to stand up for our civil liberties. I have also worked to create reasonable regulations allowing adults to buy and be licensed to sell cannabis. As state senator, I will continue this work by:

  1. Proposing to make substance abuse treatment available on demand and to increase the variety of treatment options
  2. Regulating and taxing cannabis rather than prohibiting it
  3. Opening up a path for past cannabis crimes to be expunged
  4. Increasing fact-based, age appropriate education on drugs in schools
  5. Opposing efforts to increase criminal penalties and social stigma for users
  6. Supporting more programs to reduce harm such as needle exchange and greater engagement with users
  7. Standing up for our constitutional rights to due process and against unreasonable search and seizure