Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $40,000)
This project proposes to analyze the length of time served by state prisoners in Michigan
from 1988 to 2008. One primary impetus for this analysis is the recent research showing
Michigan has the longest prison stays in the USA (Pew Center 2012). A second justification for this research is the substantial impact that time served has upon state prison populations. Third, Michigan has undergone marked parole and sentencing reform over the last several decades. In
1992 the parole board was reshaped and parole approval rates decreased, and in 1999 sentencing guidelines were changed and truth-in-sentencing was also implemented. Though large prison populations are a national-level issue, past research has shown that they are a result of a number of state-specific policies. Therefore, this project strives to concentrate on the state with the
longest prison stays and its own unique set of policies that affect this trend.
The project will use National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP) data available
through the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data. These data will allow many key research questions to be addressed since NCRP data include information on time served along with information from particular states and other social demographic traits. Related research on time served has offered valuable insights and shows the utility of these data (Patterson 2015; Bradley
and Engen 2016). This proposed project will build upon this past research and contribute to our understanding of state-specific patterns and trends across offenses and racial groups.
In order to further examine variation in time served this project will analyze the extent to which certain offenses have been affected within eras of changing policy. Analyses within will take a particular focus on offense types such as armed robbery, drug trafficking, aggravated assault,fraud, and larceny. This project is also informed by the evidence showing racial disparities in
criminal justice processes. We examine the extent to which racial differences exist in time served between offense types and across time.
From these analyses, key findings will be available to policy-makers in Michigan. The
analysis also has the capability of adding the academic research literature on time served and the impact of sentencing and parole policies.ca/ncf