Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS) - June, 2015

CAPPS Report: 10,000 Fewer Michigan Prisoners: Strategies to Reach The Goal

On June 11, 2015, CAPPS released its new report that examines the key factors that led to a striking increase in Michigan’s prison population over the last three decades and two-dozen recommendations that are firmly grounded in data and research. Each recommendation is accompanied by estimated prison bed savings. The recommendations could safely reduce Michigan’s prison population by at least 10,000 people over the next five years, closing more than seven prisons and saving a quarter billion dollars annually.

The report recommends changes in sentencing and parole and calls for a modest amount of sentence credit for participation in prison programs. It includes detailed information about special prisoner populations, such as the very young, the very sick, the elderly and those serving life or very long terms.

“There is bipartisan recognition of the need to change course, both nationally and in Michigan,” said Barbara Levine, CAPPS Associate Director for Research and Policy. “The report provides a roadmap that is consistent with the bipartisan push for smart justice through common sense reforms, and can be an important tool for policymakers as they reconsider criminal justice policies that are both ineffective and too costly in both fiscal and human terms.

“We now have the benefit of decades of experience and a wealth of research that tells us which policies are effective and which ones are simply a burden to taxpayers,” added Levine. “Just as we adopted strategies that seemed appropriate in the 1980s and 1990s, we can respond to the changes of the last 35 years and adopt new strategies in 2015.

CAPPS also called for investing corrections savings in programs to better prepare prisoners for release, in support for high-incarceration communities, and in services that would improve public safety by addressing the causes of criminal behavior, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment. Justice reinvestment and helping offenders succeed were strong themes in the Governor’s May 20015 Special Message on Criminal Justice.

The report has received extensive media coverage and both conservative and liberal support. To download the report, go to or Hard copies can be purchased from the CAPPS office.

If you would like to receive information about legislation, research and events, please email or call Dena Anderson, CAPPS Executive Assistant, at (517) 482-7753.

by Laura Sager, Executive Director
Citizens Alliance on Prisons
and Public Spending

The Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS) is a non-profit public policy organization. We are concerned about Michigan’s excessive use of punitive strategies rather than preventive ones to deal with crime and its impact on our quality of life. CAPPS advocates re-examining those policies and shifting our resources to services that prevent crime, rehabilitate offenders and address the needs of all our citizens in a cost-effective manner. For more information about CAPPS’s research, recommendations, or to get involved, please go to the CAPPS website at or email Laura Sager, executive director, at

If you are interested in helping with CAPPS’s public education and outreach efforts, please email Laura Sager at