DOC doesn't know if prisoner release effort works

A new Auditor General report is going to cause some heartburn in the Michigan Department of Corrections and in the Legislature. It says that DOC has spent about $130 million on a prisoner re-entry program -- and has no clue whether the program actually works.

The Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative was a centerpiece of the Granholm administration's efforts to shrink the state's massive prison population and, by extension, the amount of money needed to run it.

As Bridge columnist Peter Luke notes in today's Bridge, Michigan's prison population has gone down. The spending has not.

It's possible that MPRI had a big role in trimming the prison ranks, but the Auditor General's Office says that DOC does not have a system in place to verify MPRI's effectiveness, or lack thereof:

"DOC had not established a comprehensive process to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of MPRI services. As a result, DOC could not assess the strengths, weaknesses, needs and overall effectiveness of MPRI. DOC expended $26.9 million, $43.5 million and $52.7 million in fiscal years 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10, respectively, and budgeted $52.1 million in fiscal year 2010-11 for MPRI services. Therefore, it is imperative that DOC be able to determine the true value of MPRI services."

Gov. Rick Snyder gives his 2012-13 budget presentation on Thursday. Soon thereafter, legislators in charge of DOC's budget, such as Sen. John Proos and Rep. Joe Haveman, are sure to have plenty of questions for DOC officials about this audit and the future of MPRI.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Tue, 02/07/2012 - 8:25pm
Local criticism of the MPRI program is growing. This program is great in concept but has problems. The first thing it needs is local oversight.