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Governor's Special Message on Public Safety

In keeping with his effort to focus his administration and the Legislature on areas of critical concern to the state, Governor Rick Snyder today presented his Special Message on Public Safety before an audience at the Flint City Hall.

The main focus of many of his initiatives will be on the cities of Flint, Detroit, Saginaw and Pontiac.  All four cities were recently ranked among the FBI’s ten most violent cities.  To the Governor, public safety is a fundamental issue and has a direct impact on the quality of life for the citizens of these cities.  He is looking for collaboration on all levels of government and with non-profit organizations to roll out his programs and ideas.

The Governor announced “smart justice,” which is a three prong approach to the high rate of violence.  The first is a comprehensive approach, including working with law enforcement, the criminal justice system and crime prevention.  The second is data driven which will measure the results, as with other areas there will be a public safety dashboard to measure these results.  Third, he will drive programs to the areas of greatest need, where the biggest impact can be made.

In his February budget address and reiterated in today’s special message, the Governor suggested focusing funding on the following areas:

·         In order to lower the back logs in forensic labs, the Governor wants to add twenty more scientist to crime labs.
·         An additional $900,000 for the Attorney General’s office to work with local government on prosecuting crimes.
·         $15 million in a community venture program run by the MEDC to help the structurally unemployed secure long term jobs.
·         To help at-risk youth he is asking for $5 million to go to  after school and summer programs to give youth a positive outlet and help build self esteem.
·         $3 million to help the Michigan Land Bank clear titles in order to lower the number of vacant homes.
·         An additional $4.5 million to the Flint jail to ensure adequate jail space.

On the criminal justice reform front, Governor Snyder wants to create mental health courts in the four cities and asked for $1.25 million to create drug courts in Genesee, Wayne, Oakland and Saginaw counties.  The Governor will also look to expand prisoner re-entry programs, instead of waiting until a few months prior to release as is the current system, he wants to start the programs the moment a person enters a prison.

Governor Snyder’s plan also includes help for victims.  He will issue an Executive Order placing sexual assault as part of the domestic violence board and will direct the board to update Michigan’s sexual assault evidence kit which has not been updated in twenty years.  The Governor encouraged the legislature to pass Senate Bills 454 – 468 which provide for better senior protection, as abuse of seniors is on the rise.

The Governor is looking to update technology on two fronts; the 911 system and prescription drugs.  Currently only 35% of providers use online scripts, as that percentage increases there will be a decrease in prescription drug abuse.

An important issue to the Governor will be dealing with truancy.  Currently the laws are geared towards those between the ages on 16 and 18, so he will ask the legislature to change current laws to deal with all ages.  The Department of Human Services (DHS) will place more social workers in public schools within the four cities and will require regular school attendance as a condition of temporary cash assistance eligibility.

For more on Governor Snyder’s initiatives please click here.

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