‘Swift and Sure’ bills poised for Senate passage

LANSING—Legislation sponsored by Sen. John Proos to protect public safety and reduce prison costs by creating a “Swift and Sure” punishment program in Michigan for parolees and probationers is poised to be approved by the state Senate.

“This is about being innovative in how the state operates, looking to see what is working in other states, and bringing those proven ideas to Michigan,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The Swift and Sure program is based on a significantly successful Hawaiian program that helped reduce crime and drug use by probationers while saving taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Proos noted that, in one year, probationers in Hawaii’s Honest Opportunity with Probation Enforcement (HOPE) program were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime, 72 percent less likely to use drugs, 61 percent less likely to skip appointments with their supervisory officer and 53 percent less likely to have their probation revoked than the control group. As a result, they also served or were sentenced to an average of 48 percent fewer days of incarceration.

Michigan’s Fiscal Year 2012 Judiciary and Department of Corrections budgets included the program as a pilot project in Barry, Berrien, Isabella and Wayne counties, and the current Fiscal Year 2013 budgets, that began Oct. 1, expand the program to allow more counties to apply. 

Senate Bills 1141 and 1179 would make the pilot Swift and Sure program permanent. The program would supervise high-risk probationers and require them to undergo frequent, random drug and alcohol testing so that treatment decisions are based on the probationer’s behavior.

“Swift and Sure is a program of penalties resulting in jail time for certain probation violations, to ensure public safety in a more cost-effective manner than returning offenders to state prisons,” Proos said. “As subcommittee chair for the Corrections budget, I continue to work to bring Michigan’s prison costs in line with our surrounding states. Once expanded statewide the program is estimated to save taxpayers $25 million each year – enabling us to focus more state funding on other priorities, like education and economic development.”

Berrien County has adopted a Swift and Sure Sanctions program. Berrien County Trial Court Judge Sterling Schrock, who presides over the pilot program, said, “We are excited in Berrien County about the Swift and Sure program. We are already seeing positive results due to the program, which is good news for the offenders, our corrections system and our community.”

Proos’ bills were approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Sept. 27 and await a vote by the full Senate.