Department of Corrections
The Department of Corrections contributes to public safety by providing custody and care for incarcerated felons while maintaining oversight and supervision of parolees and felony probationers. The governor’s proposed budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 recommends total funding of $1.98 billion, of which $1.92 billion is general fund.
Highlights of the Governor’s Budget Recommendation
• The governor remains committed to tightly controlling corrections costs while ensuring public safety. The Executive Budget includes $1.5 billion to operate a safe and secure prison system that currently houses 43,400 prisoners.
• The governor’s budget includes $323 million in total funding ($304 million of which is general fund) for parole, probation, and community programs that provide cost effective local alternatives to more costly incarceration in the state’s prison system. The department supervises about 47,000 offenders on felony probation and more than 14,000 offenders on parole.
• Governor Snyder has taken steps to reform the state’s retirement system so that it is sustainable and adequately funded, including greater employee contributions and a more predictable benefit structure. As part of those reforms, the state began prefunding retiree health care benefits in 2012. This emphasis on adequately prefunding the state’s obligations for pension and other post-employment benefits has necessitated an increase of $250 million in costs to the department since 2011. Even with this increase in legacy cost payments, overall Corrections spending has held steady since 2011 due to the department’s implementation of hundreds of millions of dollars in cost containment measures and administrative efficiencies. The Executive Budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 continues this trend of sound fiscal management and responsible stewardship of limited taxpayer resources with a proposed budget reduction of almost $65 million from fiscal year 2015, despite legacy cost payments of over $330 million.
• Electronic monitoring using a variety of tether devices is an important tool used by the department to safely supervise offenders in the community. The Executive Budget includes $4 million in savings associated with this program due to a conversion from leased devices to state-owned equipment.
• Prisoner education provides marketable skills to offenders through academic, workplace, and social competency training. These skills are crucial to increasing the likelihood for offender success upon re-entry into the community. Total education program funding is $35.9 million. The Executive Budget increases the education funding by $500,000 due to additional federal funds. Governor Snyder recently signed legislation which will also promote offender success upon re-entry, by allowing qualifying parolees who have completed a career and technical education course to receive a certificate of employability. This certificate will help parolees obtain jobs in the community, one of the most important factors in reducing the risk of recidivism.
Safe, efficient transportation of offenders and staff is a vital ongoing task of the
Department of Corrections. Total funding for transportation is $23.8 million.
Improvements to transportation logistics result in savings of $1 million.
• Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe will be deactivated in 2016, and its current inmates will be relocated to the nearby Hiawatha Correctional Facility. Safety and security for both staff and inmates will improve as a result. Additionally, the department will save money on operating costs due to increased efficiencies. The Executive Budget recommends $2 million in savings for fiscal year 2016 related to this transition.
• Finally, the governor’s budget recommends savings of $7.9 million from facility operating efficiencies, elimination of administrative vacancies, and cost controls. The department continues to identify and implement ways to promote safe correctional facilities which use funds effectively.