By JOSHUA BENDER
Capital News Service
LANSING — One in 10 Michigan children has had a parent in jail or in prison, a rate so high it puts Michigan in a tie for the thir- highest rate in the nation, according to a newly released report. And that has significant ramifications for the mental health of the children. “This is as traumatic as experiencing domestic violence and abuse, in that the trauma continues to affect kids into adulthood,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count project director for the Michigan League for Public Policy, a Lansing-based child welfare advocacy group. Losing a parent to the penal system puts children at greater risk of depression and anxiety, she said. The loss also puts a greater financial burden on families to cover basic household expenses.
By JACOB KANCLERZ
Capital News Service
LANSING – Despite years of cuts and reforms, Michigan’s corrections budget is bigger than other portions of the state budget, including higher education and safety net programs.
Although the state’s prison population of about 43,000 has fallen from an all-time high of 51,554 in 2007, the Michigan Department of Corrections and a coalition of interest groups continue to push reforms, particularly in how long people stay imprisoned. The corrections department has closed 14 prisons and camps, bid out health care services, stripped away layers of administration and made other savings over the past decade, said John Cordell, a public information specialist with the Michigan Department of Corrections. It now costs just $2 a day to feed three meals to each prisoner. The corrections budget hovers around $2 billion annually (Cordell said it’s $1.93 billion this year), and the prison population is partly why, said John Bebow, the executive director for the Center for Michigan, a think tank in Ann Arbor. Although Michigan’s prison population is down 15 percent from the 2007 peak, a 2011 report from the Council of State Government showed that Michigan has the highest imprisonment rate in the Midwest.