I don't envy the job of correctional officers in the United States as they have to patrol the hallways and cell blocks of the thousands of prisons in America every day. They must find a way to maintain order amongst individuals who have rendered themselves non-functional to society. Many things can occur while one is rehabilitating and awaiting their release from the prison system and most of it is not good.

Some people may never see the end of their prison sentences while others are stuck in prison for something that some wouldn't consider to be a crime today. The long and harsh sentences that are handed down for various crimes have started to create an influx of prisoners that is too much for the officers to handle. Due to the understaffed prisons here, Michigan may have to turn to an unpopular solution to solve the problem at hand.

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H&P Law took a look at some data about our prison system here in America. According to 2023 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and 2022 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Michigan is ranked 8th for most understaffed prisons in America. Michigan has 32,374 prisoners who are watched and locked away by 7,790 correctional officers which is a 4.16 prisoner-to-guard ratio.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that there are not enough guards to safely monitor all of the prisoners, so what does this mean for Michigan prisons? Well, one of the many options is something that many people may not agree with, letting some of the prisoners back into society. I get the idea of wanting them to rehabilitate or face the consequences but if we don't have guards how can we do that?

Also, let's address the elephant in the room, no one is saying that Michigan prisons should release violent or repeat offenders but some prisoners have been held captive for too long based on their crimes. Many have suggested that prisoners who were imprisoned for cannabis possession, petty theft, or other non-violent crimes be released to make room for the more serious offenders while also making prison guard jobs easier.

Are you a fan of this idea? What should the state of Michigan do about this problem that seems to be growing by the year? Here's how Michigan stacks up against other states in the understaffed prison conversation:

How Understaffed Are America's Prisons? New Research Revealed

H&P Law examined data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2023 and the Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2022 to determine the number of correctional officers and compare that to the number of prisoners in each state (Rhode Island data unavailable). Let's countdown to the state with the poorest staffing within prisons and jails.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

The 1952 Jackson, Michigan Prison Riot

Protesting harsh treatment, poor medical care, and bad food, inmates of Jackson's Michigan State Prison held 9 guards hostage for 5 days of riots in April 1952.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

Look Inside This Now Abandoned Michigan Prison

It's a place no one hopes to end up unless it's abandoned of course. Take a look into this now abandoned, Michigan prison.

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