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AG office offers details on ‘4 strikes’ thinking

As readers of this post know, Attorney General Bill Schuette’s proposal to add a “four strikes” provision to Michigan sentencing law has folks in Lansing doing some quick calculations on what this would mean for prisons and prison costs.

Today, Rusty Hills of Schuette’s staff outlined what the AG’s Office did prior to the proposal’s announcement Wednesday.

“The head of our Criminal Justice Bureau, Tom Cameron, went back and looked at all of the 1st and 2nd degree murders in Michigan last year. Of those, 4 fell into what we call the V.O. 4 category – they would have been caught and incarcerated for the mandatory minimum of 25 years, because their fourth felony conviction was of a violent, assaultive nature – one of the crimes that D.O.C. lists as serious (this would have been before they committed or were involved in a murder).

“So this is a narrowly tailored, carefully crafted approach. We’re not trying to throw 10,000 people into prison; instead, we’re aiming at the intersection of repeat offender (a fourth felony conviction) and violent criminal (the fourth offense must be violent, as defined by D.O.C.). These are the folks who have an outsized effect on crime rates (violent recidivists), and I think it is reasonable that this category of criminal deserves to be removed from society for a longer period of time. …

“Violent crime is a problem in and of itself.  It also affects job growth, education; really, any quality of life issue. Flint and Detroit and other urban areas need more jobs and better schools.  Dealing with crime is a part of that package, because less crime will help facilitate job growth and an atmosphere of learning.

“I personally spoke with DOC Director Dan Heyns beforehand (and Dennis Muchmore in the Governor’s office) to let him know of what we would be proposing. He did mention costs to me, and I said we are aware that there is a price to this. But, just as importantly, there is also a cost to inactivity.”

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