Craig DeRoche on Michigan’s Disproportionate Sentencing in the Detroit News

Writing in the Detroit News, president of Justice Fellowship, former speaker of the House in Michigan, and Right on Crime signatory Craig DeRoche tackles his home state’s record on disproportionate sentencing. He writes,

the forcible deprivation of liberty through incarceration is an awesome state power that is vulnerable to misuse, threatening the republican values that underpin the legitimacy of both the prison and of the state.

One of the ways we should limit government power is through the principle of proportionality. Proportionality requires that crimes be sentenced in relation to their seriousness and to the extent of the offender’s moral culpability.

These days, well-designed, well-managed sentencing systems successfully reduce disparities, make sentencing predictable and make the system more transparent. We now have clear evidence that Michigan’s sentencing system does not accomplish these things.

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“Texas conservatives to Michigan: Follow our lead and cut prison funding now”

Marc Levin and Derek Cohen in MLive: “Though their weather is very different, Michigan and Texas share many similarities. Geography and size notwithstanding, both states have a sizeable conservative majority in both chambers of the legislature, and a conservative executive. Both are diverse in terms of demographics and industry.”

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The Mackinac Center: ‘Not So Criminal Minds’

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy authored a piece on overcriminalization titled “People Who Do Not Knowingly Commit Crimes”

There are thousands of federal laws and many more coming from the states. So many, that at the national level the government doesn’t even try to add them up anymore.

Click here to read more.

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“Forfeiture In Michigan”

Michigan Capitol Confidential: Bipartisan House bill would bring transparency to law enforcement seizing property without criminal charges.

Read the whole story here.

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Improving Law Enforcement in Detroit

You wouldn’t know it by tuning into your local news, but the notorious crime epidemic of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s appears to have passed. Property crime and homicide rates haven’t been this low in 30-40 years, and contrary to many predictions, crime has actually continued declining during the recession. You would never know it, though, from patrolling the battered streets of Detroit.

America has dealt with failing cities before, but Motor City presents unique challenges. Detroit has undergone massive depopulation since the belly-up of 2008, but the city still has far more residents to protect than Newark, Camden, or Baltimore. Moreover, the way that Detroit is populated creates many headaches for its policemen; the city is sparsely inhabited outside of “stronghold” neighborhoods like East English Village, Mexican Town, and Palmer Woods.

But it is in these middle-class districts that Manhattan Institute senior analyst George Kelling believes the renaissance must begin. Kelling, the author of the famous “Broken Windows” article that inspired a rethinking the NYPD’s tactics in the eighties, believes that letting crime seep into the last stable neighborhoods would trigger an exodus fatal to Detroit. Thus, according to Kelling, no stone should be left unturned: even petty crimes must be dealt with swiftly. Specifically, the crime guru urges zeroing in on, “public urination, prostitution, and other kinds of low level behaviors which are precursors to more serious crime.”  Traffic enforcement is surprisingly important, as routine stops have nabbed many criminals. Certainly, there are many speeders out there who aren’t thieves or killers. A large subset of the criminal population, however, exhibit aggressive driving that is predictive of other behaviors. In a promising start, Michigan’s Department of Transportation has launched an initiative to identify offenders who are also lousy drivers.

With a steady, well-oiled machine devoted to safeguarding and expanding successful areas like Palmer Woods and Grandmont Rosedale, Detroit can hopefully join most of the rest of the United States in kissing sky-high crime rates goodbye.

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