Reducing Time Served for Non-Violent Offenders

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Media Artifact


2. Persona and POV statement Persona: Persona name: Carrie Smith Age: 17 School/occupation: Detroit Public Schools student Location: Detroit, MI   Quote: "I'm just trying to graduate"   About:
  • Lives with her dad, step mom and brother
  • Works after school at Wendy's for extra money
  • Sometimes hangs out with a bad crowd, but has a good head on her shoulders
  • Wants to graduate from highschool and get a job
  • Trying to stay out of the trouble that her friends get into
  • Stop relying on drugs and alcohol to enjoy her time with her friends


POV Statement:
  • User Carrie, a good mannered teen who sometimes gets caught up in a bad crowd...
  • Need needs to stay on track to graduate and remain elligable for college or a job afterwards...
  • Insight but there are a lot of outside pressures to get involved with drugs or theft that could derail her from obtaining the future she wants.


3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Instead of sending people directly to prison, take non-violent offenders and enroll them in a rehabilitation program. One that focuses on getting people back on their feet as opposed to a quick program that doesn't help them in the long run.

SOLUTION 2: Enroll more offenders in community service programs that will connect them with people in their area that could help them once their requirement is fulfilled.

SOLUTION 3: Many people thrust into the prison system have a form of mental illlness that, once incarcerated, never recieves proper treatment and often gets worse. Sending people to treatment facilities, instead of sending them to a cell, is more likely to find long term solutions to their ailments.



Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:



Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: Reached out to Carol Kuhnke, a Judge in Washtenaw County.




Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.


Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.


Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?


The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS.... People incarcerated for nonviolent offenses are put in prison with many other criminals that have done much worse offenses. These people can, instead of recover, learn from these criminals and continue making offenses when they are released.

WHEREAS.... Instead of getting support for drug addiction or other kind of substance abuse, these offenders are put in a system where their issues are overlooked and they will go right back to using the second they are released.

WHEREAS.... Mental illness is severly overlooked in the prison system and people often face judgement and lack of care while incarcerated. These illnesses often get worse while in prison and after being released.

(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).


1. Money would be saved from the correctional budget and be able to be applied to other programs that would be more effective in reducing the recidivism rate.

2. People wouldn't be incarcerated in the first place and not lose valuable time in their lives where they could benefit their communities. 

3. Without being incarcerated in the first place offenders would not learn from other criminals in prison.

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. Some people need to undergo the corrections process in order to be able to "right their wrongs" both to society and themselves.

2. People may not see the value in alternatives to prison as impactful resources to help offenders get back on their feet. 

3.They may believe the current issues of alternatives to mass incarceration are unfixable and useless.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?

The average cost per inmate per year is $31,286 to maintain in the US (Vera). Of the current incarcerated inmates 1 out of every 4 are for non-violent offenses (Time). 40 states were surveyed in 2010 and were recorded to spend $39 billion dollars in maintaining the prisons. This was 5.4 billion dollars over their proposed budget (Vera). In total there are around 2.2 million people incercerated in the US (PPI). For estimation purposes, if roughly half of the nonviolent offenders are not entered into the prison system it would save the $8,603,650,000 US dollars a year [31,286*(2,200,000*0.125)]. This money saved could be put into other forms of corrections that would reduce the recidivism rate. For example, rehab, community service programs, mental health counseling, educational programs. 



These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.







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