By KYLE CAMPBELL
Capital New Service
LANSING — Despite a declining prison population, the average Michigan prisoner is spending more time behind bars — at significant taxpayer expense. Michigan inmates spend on average 4.3 years in prison while the national average is 2.9 years, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trust. The disparity is even greater among violent criminals at 7.6 years on average in Michigan compared to five years nationally. Some experts argue longer prison stints do little to deter crime or reduce recidivism and therefore only swell the Corrections Department budget. Corrections Director Daniel Heyns said the major source of the problem is sentencing.