End Zero Tolerance Policy of the Michigan Department of Corrections
The Zero Tolerance Policy in effect mandates that a family visit to a Michigan prison is automatically denied due to an inadvertent policy violation has a chilling affect upon families visiting their loved ones incarcerated in a Michigan Prison. This policy does more harm than good because it is vitally important that inmates receive as many visits as possible from family and friends to help them in their rehabilitation and eventual return to their community. Some families must travel for more than two hours to get to the prison to visit, for example Ojibway Correctional Facility is located in Marenisco Michigan which is a 13 hour ride from Detroit. Also some family members are senior citizens who are attempting to visit they are not perfect and may forget something as simple as having a watch on their arm, or their cell phone in their purse. This can be easily remedied by allowing them to place the item in their locker. The state of Michigan has a compelling interest in the safety of its prisons but automatically denying a family visit is not the best way to achieve this goal because an inmate may be more hostile without family visits. In the alternative allowing prison officials to use discretion if a rule is inadvertently violated will make for better relationships between the inmates, corrections officers, and families, then we will have a safer prison environment.
We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to return to allowing prison officials to use discretion when determining if a visit is denied. Zero tolerance is unnecessarily cruel and serves to punish families for visiting their loved one incarcerated in a Michigan prison.