GRAND RAPIDS, MI – In an effort to reduce the risk and rate of repeat offenses by recently released prisoners, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Patrick Miles launched a new program called “Facing Choices” in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) earlier this year.
As part of the Facing Choices Program, state and federal law enforcement officials met today with state parolees in the Grand Rapids area. Representatives of service providers and programs available to parolees were also in attendance. This is the second in a series of such meetings to be held throughout Western Michigan.
The program is intended to help parolees make decisions that keep them on a law-abiding path and away from offending again. “The goal of the Facing Choices program is to reduce recidivism. That means less crime which means fewer victims as well as lessening the burden on law enforcement, the judicial and prison systems, and taxpayers,” U.S. Attorney Miles stated. “Nationally, approximately two-thirds of ex-offenders are rearrested within three years of release and almost half are re-incarcerated. In Michigan, the recidivism rate is 28 percent. According to one report I read, if 93 percent of prisoners in the U.S. did not commit another offense, American taxpayers would save between $17.3 billion and $1.1 trillion.”
U.S. Attorney Miles, Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky, other law enforcement representatives and MDOC officials reminded the parolees that law enforcement, prosecutors, and the MDOC are prepared to see them sent back to jail if they make poor choices and re-offend. But, they prefer seeing them become productive members of society and succeed.
A parolee who re-offends is a high priority target for law enforcement. “But the point of this meeting is not just to remind you that we’ll hold you accountable if you do wrong,” U.S Attorney Miles explained. “We’re here to remind you that parole is an opportunity for you. Take advantage of the resources and the contacts that your parole status affords you.”
MDOC Deputy Administrator Brian Shipman noted: “The mission of the Department of Corrections is to hold offenders accountable while promoting their success. The MDOC envisions the placement of an offender into the community as a carefully planned process.
It is guided by a case plan which is meant to prepare him or her for a legally and socially acceptable adjustment to life in the community. Supported by experienced professionals in the public and private sectors, the offender will have the resources and guidance necessary to support successful community adjustment.”
Approximately 80 parolees attended the event. Following the talks from law enforcement and MDOC representatives, the parolees were directed to the attending service providers.
Representatives of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, Kent County Prosecutor’s Office and Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also spoke and shared in the message to the parolees. U.S. Attorney Miles praised the cooperation and collaboration that are critical to the Facing Choices program, “I am pleased that local, state, and federal law enforcement as well as County Prosecutors are working together to reduce recidivism,” he said. “I believe it is the mission of law enforcement and prosecutors to protect the public and that efforts to prevent repeat offenses are part of that duty.”