While most people will not admit it, criminal law is big business. There is a plan to place people in county jails and to send defendants to the Michigan Department of Corrections. That plan is not always punishment; it is also employment. In our criminal justice system, there is a lot of money that is spent on court costs, salaries for those on our bench, probation officers, prosecutors, and public defenders. The reality is that economics does play a role in people being incarcerated. With the advent of COVID-19, the cost to house inmates has risen dramatically. With so many different agendas going on in our criminal justice system, there is some debate over whether safety and economics are colliding.?
Before COVID-19, the average cost to house an inmate in the state of Michigan was $35,809 per year. In the federal prison system, the average price was $34,704.12 before the coronavirus. Since COVID-19, the cost of medicine has gone up dramatically. With the danger of judicial economy being compromised, we are left to wonder how our legal system will handle this situation. To dig deeper into this situation, we have spoken to several attorneys in our state.
Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan. McManus has found success with his research on both the state and federal levels and has examined this issue at length. McManus stated, “On its face, there does not appear to be a big difference between the costs of state and federal incarceration. However, if you look deeper into the analysis, we see that Michigan did away with good time credit. When legislation was passed, eliminating good time credit, the government assured longer prison states. This was a plan to create employment at the Michigan Department of Corrections and also provided a higher rate of taxes for the citizens of our state.”