By RACHAEL HARRIS
Capital News Service
LANSING—The idea behind reducing supervision fees paid by individuals on parole or probation is, surprisingly, to raise money.
Rep. Tommy Brann, R-Wyoming, proposed the bill after his constituents complained that the $135 monthly fee is too high.
The bill would reduce the cost of supervision to $30 per month and $60 for individuals with an electronic monitoring device.
Even though the fee would be cut by more than $100, the move could produce more revenue if more people pay the fee, state officials said.
“The reason for the bill was because of the parolees not paying the fees,” said Brandon Dubois-Jones, a legislative aide to Brann.
“People who are paying their fees are subsidizing for those who aren’t paying,— this equals it (the cost) so more people are paying,” Dubois-Jones said.
The bill would also benefit parolees who are already struggling for income. By lowering the fee, parolees would be able to prioritize their money for necessities such as health care, rent and other court fees, he said.
The Department of Corrections supports the bill because it could improve revenues that support the program, said Chris Gautz, the public information officer for the department.
“By reducing the fee, we actually think we’ll see more revenue coming in because it is a more manageable amount,” Gautz said.
The department is unsure how much revenue would be produced but has spoken with other states regarding the fee alteration. Supervision fees in other states range from as low as $35 to as high as $200 per month, said Drew Jones, a legislative aide to Brann.
After lowering the fee, other states experienced an increase in revenue for their department and Michigan could see the same thing.
Gautz says that the fee change would lessen the administrative burden of the program and push individuals to acquire stable employment.
“We have to track the pay history and document where the money is coming from by seeing how much the parolee is making,” he said.
Brann plans to meet with corrections officials soon to discuss the bill.
And Gautz said, “We want to make sure the numbers add up right, — that there is support from the governor’s office.”.
The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.