State Rep. Joe Haveman earlier this week hosted an all-day informational event for his fellow lawmakers called Michigan Corrections 101: An Introduction for Legislators.
The event was a first-of-its-kind experience for both new and returning state lawmakers. Experts from the House Fiscal Agency and state Department of Corrections joined local advocates for judicial reform in presenting an overview of major issues in corrections and the major hurdles to reform efforts.
“I wish someone had hosted an event like this when I was new to the Legislature,” said Haveman, R-Holland. “The issues in prison reform are so complex that it can be difficult to navigate without some help. But corrections is such a big part of the state budget — and such a big part of state government overall — that we really do need to put the politics aside and get to work on real solutions to this issue.”
Corrections reforms were a major issue in 2011 and 2012, with several important bills being signed into law. That should be true again in the coming term, especially with the creation of a new House Committee on Criminal Justice. Haveman was recently named the new Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.
“As a first-term representative, I was thrilled to be able to attend a briefing on the Michigan corrections budget hosted by a third-term member,” said state Rep. Rob VerHeulen, R-Walker. “I was able to learn a great deal of information that will help me be more informed on future reforms that are needed.”
More than 60 people attended the inaugural event, including 25 lawmakers.
“I’m glad to hear this event was useful for my colleagues,” Haveman said. “I hope it will give them a new perspective on the difficulties we face and an idea of the areas that still need serious reforms.”