06/04/2010 - It was an early-morning session but anything but sleepy.
Debate over Michigan's correctional spending and policy was front and center for a Friday panel at the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference, where budget concerns bumped up against those of citizen safety.
Michigan's correctional spending is a big target, consuming more than 20 percent of the state's general-fund budget.
And at about $1.9 billion in the current fiscal year, the spending is seen by some as not only crowding out current and future state priorities but also contributing to the state's appetite for tax dollars.
But there are widely divergent opinions over some of the policies involved in an operation that employs one in every three state workers while providing a vital service.
Richard Jerome, project manager of the public safety performance project at the Pew Center on the States in Washington, said the Pew center is working with states around the country to address how they can get a better return on their public safety dollars.
The Pew Center helped fund the CSG's Michigan work and worked with them on the project.
“I think people generally have the impression that if you put more people in prison, that's the way to increase public safety. But there are states around the country that have reduced their levels of incarceration, and reduced the crime rates,” Jerome said.
Read the full article, Budget Issues Collide With Public Safety in Debate Over Corrections Spending, on Crain's Detroit Business' Web site.