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Word Count: 506
Crime in Michigan is at a 30-year low According to a study released in The Detroit News prison spending and prison populations are increasing at alarming rates - with no end in sight While the low crime rate can be at least partly attributed to an increasing prison population Michigan prisons cannot continue to sustain the overflow of prisoners I think now is the time for the state to examine alternate methods of punishing and rehabilitating its criminals Even though there are some advantages to the increasing prison population More dangerous criminals are kept off the street for longer periods of time due to an increasingly harsher parole board But with the increase in prison population comes an increase in the percentage of taxpayer dollars that go to funding for the Department of Corrections In 1982 the corrections budget made up less than five percent of the states general fund But today 17 cents out of every tax dollar goes to corrections That constitutes an increase of 700 million since 1982 With the increase in prison spending comes a decrease in the percentage of state dollars that go to other programs like education From 1996 to 1997 the Department of Education budget was decreased by almost 4 million while the Department of Corrections had its budget increased by nearly 50 million The more funding prisons get the less is left to spend on other important programs So what is the government to do Increase prison populations and money is taken away from other programs Decrease spending on prisons and the Department of Corrections may not be able to house all the criminals It seems like a difficult problem but there are solutions The state should start by eliminating mandatory-minimum regulations which necessitate holding prisoners for a certain length of time While the no-parole regulation may sound good the result is a prison system crowded by prisoners serving increasingly long terms In
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