Advocates for the incarcerated have started a ballot drive to allow Michigan inmates to earn time off their sentences. The Good Time initiative would give prisoners credit for participating in a training program or earning a college degree.
Inmates would also be able to reduce their sentences by taking anger management and drug treatment courses.
“If you give men and women a second chance, then this city will be impacted and state will be impacted in a great way.” —Darryl Woods, Nation Outside
Darryl Woods is Detroit area regional coordinator for Nation Outside, a criminal justice reform advocacy group. While incarcerated for 29 years in the state’s prison system, he earned his GED and chaired the NAACP Detroit Branch Prison Program Committee for over a decade. He says his experience being incarcerated gives him an understanding of the importance of new opportunities.
“If you give men and women a second chance, then this city will be impacted and state will be impacted in a great way,” Woods says.
Kwame Kilpatrick is among those advocating for the ballot initiative. The former mayor of Detroit served more than seven years of a 28-year prison sentence for his role in a racketeering and bribery scheme while in public office. He was released last year from federal prison after former President Trump commuted his sentence.
Kilpatrick, who is now an ordained minister, says there are ways to reduce sentences in federal prison but not here in Michigan. According to nonprofit Michigan Justice Advocacy, Michigan is one of only six states with no policy for Good Time or earned time credits.
He says giving prisoners the option to use job training and schooling to get out earlier reduces recidivism.
“When they walk out they have opportunities on the street you have people that are coming out of federal prison making $50-60,000 when they hit the street because there’s hope there,” he says.
The initiative will need to collect roughly 450,000 signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.