THE SOLUTIONS

Step Two: Use alternatives to prison

Prison is not always the best sentencing alterative. Restorative justice, mental health courts, drug courts, and other specialty courts and programs help limit the number of prisoners who don’t belong in prison.

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Step Five: End inhumane conditions of confinement

Prisoners who are treated badly or live in substandard conditions inside Michigan’s jails and prisons suffer irreparable harm that makes successfully re-entering society much, much harder, creating a cycle of crime to punishment to release to re-incarceration.

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Step Eight: Restoring and expanding prisoner re-entry programs and opportunities

The Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative was hailed nationwide as hugely successful in reducing the prison population and the rate of parolees returning to prison. But in 2013 the Snyder administration slashed the program’s funding, leading to a huge reduction in services. Restoring the funding and expanding the program would set Michigan back on the path to further reducing recidivism rates.

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Step 9: Eliminate systemic factors that increase rates of recidivism

In the public and private sectors, opportunities for employment, housing and other necessities of life are limited for returning citizens. A criminal record can be an albatross that prevents successful reentry, leading to recidivism. The ACLU supports “banning the box” for job and housing applications, and we favor initiatives such as “clean slate” that provide many with a de facto expungement. Finally, there are probation policies and practices that are little more than traps for those who have been released from prison and who are making their best efforts not to return.

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