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Fulsome prison blues

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News Hits reported months ago that a record number of people entered Michigan prisons last year. We also said that the Michigan Department of Corrections hadn’t a clue why this was, but was busy studying the issue.

Russ Marlan, MDOC spokesman, now tells us there are several reasons why MDOC admitted 11,000 new inmates in 2002, an all-time high. One factor: More defendants were found guilty of committing felonies last year than previous years. Duh.

Marlan also says that there were more than 3,200 parole violations last year, a record high. Probation violators contributed to the surge as well as so-called Truth in Sentencing laws, which require that some inmates go to prison rather than into community residential programs. About 730 fewer inmates entered these non-prison programs in 2002, says Marlan.

Another unrelated, and mysterious, prison statistic: the number of inmates serving life sentences in Michigan is at a record high — and exceeds the total prison population in each of 12 other states.

“Our prisoners serving life sentences increased by 136 between 2001 and 2002,” says Marlan. That is a total of 4,572 prisoners in Michigan serving life sentences, he says.

In 1974, only 680 people were lifers; that is a 550 percent increase, he says.

Marlan had no clear explanation for the spike in lifers, and for the life of us, neither do we. But we suspect it has something to do with man’s inhumanity toward man. And appalling illiteracy and violent movies and video games and deadbeat dads and firearms proliferation and crappy public schools and rap music and the romantic notion of being some sweaty guy’s bitch for life.

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