News and analysis from The Center for Michigan •
©2015 Bridge Michigan. All Rights Reserved. • Join us online at

Original article URL:

Guest commentary

Guest column: Prison savings to reach $250 million

By Daniel Heyns/Michigan Department of Corrections

I know for the past several years the Center for Michigan has been an active participant in the dialogue surrounding lowering corrections costs in Michigan. The Center facilitated the creation of the Corrections Reform Coalition — a collection of business, education, local government and nonprofit groups focused on enhancing operations and containing costs within the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Today, I have some positive news to report to the Center and the other members of the Corrections Reform Coalition.

Since Gov. Rick Snyder took office, the MDOC has taken a number of steps that will result in $258 million in savings by the end of fiscal 2013 (Sept. 30, 2013).

Daniel Heyns is director of the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Examples of some of the measures put into place are:

• Reducing and restructuring funded positions within the MDOC;

• Closing prisons that were no longer needed;

• Revising custody levels at certain correctional facilities to more appropriately match the makeup of the prisoner population;

• Reorganizing correctional health care, including savings associated with revising inmate pharmacy;

• Utilizing supply chain management initiatives and other related efficiencies;

• Reorganizing prisoner education, prisoner transportation and warehouse delivery systems;

• Moving to an electronic law library for prisoners;

• Closing parole offices and moving parole agents into the community where they should be to appropriately supervise the offenders they are responsible for;

• Consolidating prisoner mental health staff so they are all MDOC employees (previously some worked for the MDOC and some were employed by the Department of Community Health);

• Contracting with county sheriffs to house certain prisoners. This arrangement benefits both state and local government;

• Reducing the amount of clothing prisoners receive;

• Moving to random patrols of prison perimeters; and

• Putting some parameters in place for prisoner re-entry funding.

While cutting costs is important, our primary mission is creating a safer Michigan.

Early on in my tenure as director, I developed a specific plan to take additional steps toward improving offender supervision across Michigan. This plan was crafted using my 30-plus years working in local law enforcement and focused on aggressively pursuing parole absconders, increasing collaboration with law enforcement, creating additional custody bed space to allow for swift and sure sanctions for parolees and reinstituting thorough caseload audits of all parole/probation officers.

The plan is showing tremendous results.

We have decreased the number of parole fugitives by almost 18 percent since January 2011. Our increased collaboration with law enforcement has led to increased information sharing and additional arrests, and has allowed us to significantly step up compliance checks of offenders at night and on weekends. We have begun monthly inspections of all caseloads with a full audit every year, and we have repurposed the Ryan Correctional Facility in Detroit, which is providing hundreds of additional custody beds to house parole violators.

In addition, Michigan’s recidivism rate continues to drop and is one of the lowest in the country. We were recently highlighted in a national policy brief from the Council of State Governments Justice Center for advancements in reducing recidivism. Seven states were noted in the report, with Michigan showing the largest decline.

As director, I am committed to making Michigan safer AND being fiscally responsible to the citizens of Michigan. Over the past two years, our department has enacted numerous changes which have decreased costs and increased efficiency – all while enhancing public safety.

I would like to thank the Center for Michigan and the Corrections Reform Coalition for their continued efforts on this very important issue. I know your members realize that Michigan cannot have a strong flourishing economy without ensuring the safety of our citizens.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

6 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Jeffrey Stieve

    Nice job. We are heading in the right direction!

  2. Jeffrey Stieve

    Well written and also well done.

  3. Patti Kintz

    I know this. If this guy is a republican and I assume he is then his answer will be to take it out of the hides of employees. This is a republicans first and usually last answer. And the other thing I know is that somewhere someone is getting money from this because that is a republicans second response. Take from working people, give to people in the 1%. This is a republican value.

  4. T Francis

    Michigan has 4 cities in the top 10 of the most dangerous in the country. Thank goodness those guys aren’t crowding our prisons. Thanks for saving our tax dollars!

  5. JRW

    While Director Heyns may have good intentions, the legislature does not. If you have any contact with MDOC you understand that many of the cuts have potentially endangered staff , other prisoners, and Michigan residents. What’s worse, the very programs that everyone knows are most effective in reducing recidivism are being crippled by budget problems.

    Ms. Kintz has it right. The republican plan to privatize services is strictly a way to pay lower wages and put some money in the pockets of private corporations. In state after state, this has lead to lawsuits, injuries and even deaths. In the final analysis, Michigan citizens will be left to pay the millions in judgments and against the State, and the guilty lawmakers will be long gone.

    If you think we’re headed in the right direction, it’s because you don’t know the details.

  6. David Waymire

    This from the Senate Fiscal Agency:

    Says Corrections spending has increased from $1.991 billion in FY 10-11 to $2.018 billion FY 12-13.

    At same time, spending for higher ed

    has decreased from $1.518 billion to $1.399 billion.

Leave your comment...

Your email address will not be published.

Currently on Bridge

Will we be better off if Proposal 1 passes? Former treasurer says yes

An Earth Day pitch: When you hang up the phone for good, toss it the right way

Michigan’s roads affect everyone, so a 'yes' vote on Proposal 1 makes sense

‘Diplomacy Begins Here’ conference aims to illuminate international relations

What NOT to post on Facebook: Jokes about prison rape, when you’re in charge of preventing prison rape

A program to give young offenders a second chance is sending many to prison

Similar accounts in suit over alleged teen prison rapes pose challenge to state's defense

‘New fish’ ‒ One teen inmate’s account of alleged sexual assault

Early learning summit in June could impact Michigan’s children

Money Smart Week: Be penny wise, and pound savvier

Plan B or no Plan B, here’s what happens if road proposal fails

The political tale behind the selling of Proposal 1

A Bridge primer: Untangling the pothole promise of Proposal 1

Who supports, and opposes, Proposal 1

Let's rebuild Michigan through its greatest asset: its water

Could a public boarding school model work in Detroit?

Coalition supporting Detroit schools a step in the city’s road back

Chasing fads? Today’s schools are struggling too much for that

For one Michigan legislative staffer, an hour or two in the spotlight

A cull is a kill, and it’s an overreaction to deer ‘problem’

Lack of college guidance keeps poor and rural students from applying

Those who can, do – and get their hands ‘dirty’ in the process

For one Detroit mom, a complicated path to employment

Detroit by the numbers – the truth about poverty

Michigan should require dental screening for all children entering kindergarten

Where in the world is the Center for Michigan?

After two years, hard to call ACA anything but a success

Bridge’s Academic State Champs emphasizes all the wrong measurements

A graying population poses challenges for Up North counties

Up North, isolation impedes health care for seniors

Enbridge oil pipes and the Straits of Mackinac: Too risky to ignore

Not bigger government, but better services when Community Health and Human Services merge

Two Michigans gaze across a widening gap

In northern counties, workers and business find each other lacking

Hidden poverty stalks a Pure Michigan setting

Postcard: How a git-’er-done spirit helps one rural school district

Postcard: When elk is for dinner

Postcard: Luxe life at Bay Harbor reflects changing economy

Postcard: A roof and a bed

Invest in non-partisan journalism.

Donate to The Center for Michigan. Find out why.