Michigan (like many states) has a “broken” corrections system

Milbourn, Matthew A.

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Dear Sirs/ Madam, Michigan (like many states) has a "broken" corrections system. By broken, I mean, most men are not being rehabilitated to an acceptable degree to allow adhesion to societies rules and becoming productive citizens. This is not always enough reason to stop infringing on others so they can adapt new values. Lack of funding, understaffing, and complacent state employees (that can't or will not) enforce the rules and policies, already in place, are factors of blame for the brokenness. Men are sent to prison for their infringements on others and society. But that punishment should not include that the same bad "behaviors" are being promoted by the Michigan Dept of Corrections in the lack of enforcement of the rules and policies in place to prevent these very behaviors. Those overseeing prisoners need proper incentive to enforce these rules and policies, with accountability when it isn't done. 1st: (and foremost), prisoners need a reason to change (which should be freedom). 2nd: Prisoners need positive reinforcement to make that change. Prisoners seeing that rules are not enforced think that its OK to do whatever they want- same type thinking that got them incarcerated in the first place. Prisoner's now use drugs, smoke cigarettes, make alcohol, gamble, play loud music, extort money, bully others, etc all of which causes problems for others. For "criminals" experiencing the sensory deprivation of prison, even allowing noncompliance to small rules give this self-entitlement. 3rd: Prisoners need "good" role models to follow- whom are themselves falling rules and policies. Earned "good time" would provide the incentive to follow rules. Under current system, its only negative reinforcement in play. Many prisoners say, "What will they do to me (for breaking rules); put me in prison". The MDOC does not have an overseer that has to be answered to, that can give the accountability that is enforceable to ensure compliance to policy and rules. MDOC routinely "covers up" mistakes (using security, lack of financing, or good order as excuses). Many of these "mistakes" are human rights infringements and other mistreatments that are often pushed off as "thats just part of prison". (Retaliation is rampant for trying to do anything about the mistreatments.) Even the grievance system is corrupt with those being grieved answering grievances against themselves. The "fix" here is three-fold (simple to see- harder to implement): 1st: Give a time reduction incentive for "good behaviors" of rule following and participating in programs that promote change. 2nd: REQUIRE MDOC employees to: be good role models; follow rules and policies of the dept; enforce those rules fairly. 3rd: Implement a "real" overseeing entity with authority to ensure policy and rules are followed. Although this is not "rocket science" it may be just as difficult- but the ramifications of not making the changes necessary to implement this 3-fold fix will have an unacceptable consequence on Michigan tax payers: cost will keep soaring; human rights will keep being violated (adding to cost from law suits) and more and more rule breaking will keep being promoted!

Author: Milbourn, Matthew A.

Author Location: Michigan

Date: August 11, 2019

Genre: Essay

Extent: 2 pages

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