States such as Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania have more residents than Michigan but incarcerate fewer inmates. Michigan’s per-capita incarceration rate is the country’s 11th-highest, ranks higher than seven other Great Lakes states and is fourth-highest among the 11 most populous states.
Tom Clay of the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan says that people are startled to learn that Michigan spends more on prisons than public universities. Michigan’s annual prison budget is $1.9 billion (about 1/5 of the general fund) but would be closer to $1.4 billion if the state’s incarceration rate wasn’t 40% higher than that of its Great Lakes neighbors.
Republican Sen. Alan Cropsey who oversees the corrections budget illustrates the major roadblock to parole and reducing incarceration: “When you let more bad people out on the streets, more people are going to be less safe. Public safety has got to be No. 1, and (Patrick) Selepak proved that.”
Read Michigan’s prison spending eats large hole in budget in the Detroit News and get more information about Michigan’s prison system from the Michigan Department of Corrections.