We saw the heartbreak of the victims and their families. We see the brokenness of those who do harm and the damage it does to their family and society.

As religious leaders, we also stand for justice for all and act on the notion of the possibility of rehabilitation. We understand that faith and hard work can change the hearts, minds and souls of convicts to become better people after release. Therefore, we must support programs that help those who want to change their path and write new chapters in their lives.

Our faith leads us to see the good in everyone God has created, and we understand that it is often necessary to know that someone believes in their potential to make a difference. This is at the heart of our support Safe Michigan Act, HB 4450-4453.

We are committed to helping victims, their families and anyone affected by crime. Healing, redemption, and rehabilitation must be prioritized in efforts to keep our communities safe. Being accountable and responsible for your actions now and in the future helps everyone move forward. It helps stop the cycles of victimization that we see every day.

The Safe Michigan Act is a public safety measure that fights crime through rehabilitation because it gives people in prison incentives to participate in programs such as skills development, workforce training, counseling and other programs that have been shown to reduce relapse.

More than 85 percent of people in our prisons return home – including everyone who is eligible for these incentives. This means that thousands of people are willing to return in an effort to heal and improve themselves. They will return to their families and our communities. They will be our neighbors and friends, people who will communicate with our loved ones.

What do we want it to look like?

For those of us who deal with it closely, we want people to come back to us better and with a greater chance of success in the future. We want to see them flourish as they work good jobs to provide for their families and pay for it. They will have the tools to lead fulfilling lives so they can also serve as examples to others in their communities.

More than 30 states now offer similar incentives for rehabilitation programs report for 2021 found that these policies made a difference. States like Minnesota have seen up to a 20 percent drop in recidivism among those who participated in work and education programs. They were more likely to find work and less likely to reoffend. Meanwhile, states saved millions of dollars to spend elsewhere, with Pennsylvania saving more than $400 million.

The Safe Michigan Act opens the door for those returning to re-enter our communities in productive and safe ways. It allows them to redeem themselves and change their lives while helping to strengthen our communities. It makes us safer and helps end the cycle of crime.

We urge the Michigan House and Senate to pass this legislation and send it to the governor’s desk. This is a service to our communities and will bring us one step closer to our promise to make Michigan safer for all.

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