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Ballot initiative calls for return to prison inmate "good time" served

Flickr Creative Common
Prison cells

Michigan is one of six state without a system allowing inmates to reduce their prison sentence. Supporters of the Good Time Ballot initiative - which would repeal the Truth in Sentencing Law - gathered at Grand Rapids Bethlehem Lutheran Church calling for a return to what are called “good time credits.”

There was a time when Michigan inmates would receive credit for good behavior. “Good time credits” earned could reduce a prison sentence. That practice ended decades ago when the nation experienced a “Truth in Sentencing” movement.

“And the idea was that it was being sensitive to victims. That victims wanted to know that the person was going to get a sentence that looked like the sentence they thought the person was going to get.”

State Rep. David LaGrand argues encouraging good behavior benefits everyone in the corrections systems.

“Critically it helps keep the officers and staff safer. If they’re in an environment where people are incentivized to behave, then we have a less toxic environment. And that’s really, really important for everybody.”

The Grand Rapids Democrat explains a moderate “good time credit” system like the one used in jails is beneficial.

“If we did a one-for-five credit system in Michigan, somebody who got sentenced for 20-years would get out in 16 (years). So, that’s not a massive disconnect.”

Lawmakers in favor of reinstating “good time credits” say inmates holding employment while in prison, participating in a training program, earning a college degree or educational certificate would reduce their time served.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.