Timeline Shows Area Counties Follow Different Patterns for Felony Sentencing

Throughout this series on data for felony offenders sentenced in Southeastern Michigan we’ve focused on the percentage of offenders sentenced to prison, jail, a combination of jail and probation, or probation. This post allows us to further examine what trends there may be in sentencing in each of the seven counties. This data was provided by the Michigan Department of Corrections and focuses on years 2011 and 2017; the data prior to 2011 was reported differently and therefor not included.

The first chart below shows how Macomb County has consistently had the lowest percentage of felony offenders sentenced to prison since 2011, and that percentage has been decreasing in recent years. Similar to Macomb County, most of the other counties in the region have recently experienced a decrease in the percentage of felony offenders sentenced to prison. Washtenaw County experienced the largest decrease in felony offenders sentenced to prison between 2011 and 2017; that percentage decreased from 23.7 percent to 18 percent.  In that same time frame Oakland and St. Clair counties both experienced increases in the percentage of felony offenders sentenced to prison. For Oakland County the percentage increased from 19 percent to 20.1 percent and for St. Clair County the percentage increased from 15.4 percent to 18.7 percent.

The chart below shows the percentage of felony offenders sentenced to jail in Southeastern Michigan between 2011 and 2017. Consistently in this time frame, St. Clair County sentenced the highest percentage of offenders to jail and Wayne County sentenced the lowest percentage of offenders. In St. Clair County there has been a slow increase in the percentage of offenders sentenced to jail, from 32.7 percent in 2011 to 39.7 percent in 2017. There has also been an increase in the percentage of offenders sentenced to jail in Livingston County between 2011 and 2017; there was an increase from 20.8 percent to 24.3 percent. None of the counties have seen an overall decrease in the percentage off felony offenders sentenced to jail since 2011, with the exception of Monroe County. In 2011 14.4 percent of felony offenders were sentenced to jail in Monroe County and in 2017 that number decreased to 13.7 percent.

The chart below shows that Monroe County has consistently had the highest percentage of felony offenders sentenced to a jail/probation combination since 2011. The chart also shows that Washtenaw and Oakland counties have been increasing the percentage of felony offenders they’ve sentenced to a jail/probation combination. In 2011, 23.6 percent of felony offenders in Washtenaw County were sentenced to the jail/probation combination and by 2017 that number increased to 31.3 percent. For Oakland County, 39.5 percent of the felony offender population was sentenced to a jail/probation combination and by 2017 that number increased to 47.8 percent.

Wayne County consistently sentenced the lowest percentage of offenders to the jail/probation combination between 2011 and 2017.

The probation chart below shows several patterns, the first being that Wayne County has consistently sentenced the highest percentage of felony offenders to probation since 2011. Not only has Wayne County consistently sentenced the highest percentage of offenders to probation, but this sentencing form also has the largest difference between the county with the highest sentencing percentage (Wayne) and the lowest (Monroe County).

Oakland County experienced the largest decrease in the percentage of offenders sentenced to probation between 2011 and 2017. In 2011, 16.3 percent of felony offenders were sentenced probation and by 2017 that number decreased to 4.5 percent. Livingston County also experienced a decrease, from 16.3 percent to 6.4 percent. Macomb, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties also experienced minor decreases in the percentage of felony offenders sentenced to probation.

Overall, this post highlights •A decrease in the percentage of felony offenders sentenced to probation; •A general decrease in the percentage of felony offenders sentenced to prison; •General increases in the percentage of felony offenders sentenced to jail and a jail/probation combination.

Additionally, these charts highlight the trends counties tend to adhere to in sentencing. This is helpful in understanding what counties’ criminal justice priorities are and where the may money to fund the criminal justice system in each county is flowing.

Finally, this post highlights that counties follow strikingly different strategies relative to corrections, demonstrating how the criminal justice system in this state is fragmented.

The Difference in Sentencing for Convicted Felons

As this series over the last few weeks has highlighted, there are several different approaches to sentencing a felon, some of which are more common than others. For example, sentencing a felon to community service or restitution is highly uncommon, whether the individual has been convicted of a non-assaultive, assaultive or drug related felony. Prison time, jail time, a combination of jail and probation and then just probation are other sentencing options. For certain offenses, such as murder, prison time is required, and for other offenses, along with what the inmate’s criminal record is, other sentencing options may be viable.  

When an individual is sentenced to prison it means that they have been sentenced to spend at least a year in a correctional facility, whether it be controlled by the state or the federal government. Michigan has indeterminate sentencing, which means that an offender is sentenced with a minimum and maximum term of years to spend in prison. According to the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, in 2015 it cost between $32,000 and $38,000 a year to house an inmate, which includes probation/parole supervision and nonoperational overhead. Currently, Michigan’s prison population is at a 20-year low but expenses to house inmates and operate a jail continue to rise, in part due to rising health care costs and the aging prison population.

Those sentenced to jail time, or who spend time in jail, are either awaiting trial or sentencing or have been sentenced to serve a small amount of time. Jails in Michigan are under the jurisdiction of the county, not the state or the federal government. This means that the cost to house an inmate comes from the County budget. In Michigan there is also pay-to-stay policies in some county jails. According to a 2018 news story, jail inmates are charged between $20 and $60 a day at some county jails throughout Michigan. County jails too are facing rising costs with aging infrastructure being a large contributing factor. New jails are also being built in Michigan, some of which are reducing the number of beds though as a new approach to the criminal justice system begins to take hold.

According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, probation has been the primary form of supervision for felons in Michigan more than 100 years. The department states one of the reasons this is such a common form of sentencing is because it achieves public protection by assisting the offender in becoming a productive member of society. In order for such success to be achieved, the offender must be willing to participate and programs must be available. The typical felony probation is at least 18 months in length. According to the United States Courts, the annual cost of detaining a prisoner is much more significant than the cost of placing them on supervision. In Wayne County, officials stated that incarceration rates at the county jail facilities have decreased in recent years due to more offenders being placed on tether monitoring systems, which is part of a probation sentence. This approach costs less per offender than housing them in jail, according to Wayne County officials, but specific costs were not identified.

Recently, there has been a push to reevaluate the criminal justice system. In Michigan, for example a Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration was created to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s criminal justice system. According to data from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the jail population in Michigan has almost tripled in the last 30 years, despite crime rates being at a 20-year low. According to the Prison Policy Initiative there was about 225 prisoners incarcerated per 100,000 in 1985 and that increased to about 600 prisoners per 100,000 people in 2015. Discussions to decrease incarceration rates include increasing pre-trial services and better determining what treatment and programs may suit an individual better than jail time. If this approach does occur, future trends would reflect an increase in the probation and the “other” category and a decrease in incarceration rates. 

Next week we will take a deeper look as to how the percentage of felony offenders sentenced to either prison, jail, probation or other community service and treatment based alternatives has changed over the last decade. 

Probation Rate High for Non-assaultive Felony Offenders in Wayne County

This series presents correctional data for felony offenders in Southeastern Michigan. We will present data for the seven counties for three types of offenses–non-assaultive, assaultive and drug. This post concentrates on non-assaultive felony offenses. For non-assaultive felony offenders in Southeastern Michigan,  jail and probation paired together represented  the highest percentage of those sentenced, compared to those sentenced to prison, just jail or just probation. Of the seven counties in the region Monroe County had the highest percentage of offenders sentenced to jail and probation at 58.1 percent. Wayne County, conversely, had the lowest percentage of offenders sentenced at 16.1 percent. Wayne County was the only county in the region to have less than 35 percent of non-assaultive felony offenders sentenced to jail/probation.

Wayne County had nearly double the percentage of non-assaultive felony offenders sentenced to probation than any other county in the region. In 2017, 59 percent of non-assaultive felony offenders in Wayne County were sentenced to probation. The county with the second highest percentage of non-assaultive felony offenders sentenced to probation was Washtenaw County at 27.4 percent. Monroe County had the lowest percentage of offenders sentenced to probation at 1.9 percent.

Regionally, Monroe County had the highest percentage of offenders sentenced to prison in 2017 at 24.7 percent, and St. Clair County had the lowest percentage at 12.9. St. Clair County had the highest percentage of non-assaultive felony offenders sentenced to jail at 40 percent in 2017. Wayne County had the lowest percentage of offenders sentenced to just jail at 10.7 percent.

As with the first post, and future posts reflective of the 2017 Michigan Department of Corrections, the “other” category had the lowest percentage of non-assaultive felony offenders sentenced to this option. Macomb County had the highest percentage of offenders sentenced to community service, restitution fines and costs in 2017 at 1.8 percent. Monroe and St. Clair County had zero percent of offenders sentenced to community service, restitution fines and costs.

It should be noted again that Wayne County regularly has highest percentage of offenders sentenced to only probation and the lowest percentage sentenced to any length of a jail stay. As this data set on non-assaultive felony offenders shows, Wayne County had about double the amount of offenders sentenced to probation than any other county in the region.

Wayne County Has Highest Percentage of Felony Offenders Sentenced to Probation

Last month the first meeting of Michigan’s Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration was held, commencing state-wide efforts to better understand who is in the county jails, the average length of time they are there for and what better alternatives there may be. While county-wide jail data is difficult to come by, the Michigan Department of Corrections releases an annual report that details, among other information, the percentage in which felony offenders are sentenced to prison, jail, jail and probation, probation and other (community service, restitution fines and costs) for all offenses, drug offenses and assaultive offenses. This post highlights those breakdowns by county for the year 2017 in the seven county region.

When examining the overall breakdown between the five categories above, Monroe County had highest percentage of felony offenders sentenced to prison over any other sentence type. In 2017, 23 percent of the felony offenders in Monroe County were sentenced to prison. Oakland County was the only other county in the region where more than 20 percent of felony offenders were sentenced to prison; this number was 20.3 percent. Macomb County had the lowest percentage of felony offenders sentenced to prison at about 13.1 percent. The largest difference between prison and jail is the length of stay for an offender; traditionally if an offender is sentenced to serve time for longer than a year they are sentenced to prison.

In the jail category for all criminal felony offenders, St. Clair County had the highest percentage of offenders sentenced to only jail at 39.7 percent. Oakland County had the second highest percentage of felony offenders sentenced to only jail time at about 27.2 percent. Wayne County had the lowest percentage at 10.2 percent. Wayne County also had the lowest percentage of felony offenders sentenced to jail and probation at 15.8 percent. For the jail/probation sentencing category, Monroe County had the highest percentage of felony offenders sentenced to that category at 61.6 percent. Overall, the jail/probation category had the highest percentage of sentencing for all felony criminal offenses in the region, with the exception of Wayne County.

According to the data, in Wayne County in 2017 55.1 percent of criminal felony offenders were sentenced to probation. A recent article by the Detroit News highlights how Wayne County has reduced its incarceration numbers in recent years due to a move to put more offenders on tether monitoring systems, rather than housing them in the jail which costs more per offender per day. The county with the second highest probation sentencing rate was Washtenaw County 27. 1 percent. Monroe County had the lowest probation rate at 1.7 percent.

For the “other” category, which is an individual being sentenced to community service, restitution fines and costs, Macomb County had the highest percentage of offenders sentenced at 1.2 percent. Monroe County had zero percent of offenders sentenced to this option.

A key takeaway is that Wayne County regularly has the highest percentage of offenders sentenced to only probation and the lowest percentage sentenced to any length of a jail stay. As mentioned earlier, the reason for this is likely because probation is traditionally less expensive for a government entity than sentencing someone to jail. It could also be due to the fact that government entities are trying to explore other jail alternatives to reduce the number of offenders entering jails and prisons and to reduce the amount of money it costs a local government entity to house a prisoner.

Next week we will further dig into the felony offender data to see what percentages of offenders with drug, assault and non-assault charges are being sentenced to prison, jail and/or probation.

Crops Growth Behind Due to Weather

Knee high by the Fourth of July.

That’s how the old saying goes for farmers to measure the success of their corn crop during the summer months. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture 98-100 percent of corn and soybean crops are planted by the end of June. However, this year, because of wet soil conditions, only 90 percent of corn crops had been planted by June 23, 2019 and about 71 percent of soybean crops had been planted. While nearly all of the corn is planted by now, it does not mean it will be ready for harvesting when typically expected. Right now, a lot looks about ankle3 high, instead of knee high.  As for the soybeans, planting is far below the five-year average, and conditions are declining because of the waterlogged soil.

Given that crop production may be down this year, we took a look at the number of acres planted, aggregate yields last year and bushels yielded per acre in 2018 in Southeastern Michigan. This can  provide a better perspective as to how agriculture affects the lives and economy of Michigan residents.

Regionally, Monroe County had the highest number of acres harvested for corn at 50,500 acres, with Washtenaw County coming in second at 35,000 acres. Monroe, St. Clair, Livingston and areas of Macomb and Washtenaw counties are more rural, with more space for farming. Oakland and Wayne counties tend to be more urban and have the lowest number of acres harvested, along with the fewest number of bushels yielded and produced. Following the trend in which county harvested the most amount of corn regionally, Monroe County also produced the most at 8.5 million bushels of corn and it yielded 168.3 bushels per acre. A bushel is an old measure based on a bushel basket. Wayne County produced the lowest number of bushels of corn at 70,000; it yielded 116.7 bushels per acre.  In terms of the most amount of corn yielded in 2018, St. Clair County had the highest yield at 176.5 bushels yielded per acre of corn planted.


When looking at the amount of soybeans harvested in 2018 regionally, Monroe County again had the highest number of acres harvested at 83,500, and St. Clair County had the second highest at 70,200. Wayne County had the lowest number of soybean acres harvested at 3,000 acres. In terms of production, Monroe County produced the highest amount at 3,765,000 bushels; a bushel of soybeans weighs 60 pounds.  St. Clair County produced 3,150,000 bushels of soybeans and Wayne County had the lowest production rate at 118,000 bushels. When looking at the amount of soybeans yielded per acre each county was within close range of the others. Livingston County had the highest yield rate at 47.7 bushels per acre and Washtenaw County had the lowest yield rate at 43.1 bushels per acre. 


While the majority of crops are now planted there are still many farmers worried about the yield for crops that will be harvested and produced. There are also plenty of farmers relying on crop insurance to ensure some kind of income for the year. According to recent MLive article, the extent of crop insurance claims this year is 13 times higher than last year. As we wait to see what the end result of this year’s corn and soybean crop season is, we also wait to see if the weather patterns of this summer will become a pattern in years to come.

Birth Rates Continue to Decline in Michigan

In 2017 Kent County had the highest birth rate per 10,000 people in the state of Michigan at 136.5. This means there were 8,684 live births in Kent County in 2017 with a population of 636,376. Wayne County had the second highest birth rate in the state at 131.9 live births per 10,000 people; this equates to 23,257 live births for a population of about 1.7 million. Of the 83 counties in Michigan 38 of them had live birth rates above 100 per 10,000 people in 2017. Additionally, in terms of the total number of live births Wayne County had the highest total with Oakland County having the second highest total at 13,184.

As the second map below shows, most of the state had between 13 and 4,660 live births in 2017. There were 12 counties where the total number of live births was below 100, with Keweenaw County having the lowest number of live births in 2017 at 13.  Keweenaw County is in the Upper Peninsula, and like Keweenaw County several of the other counties in the UP had less than 100 live births in 2017. On the opposite end of the range, there were only five counties in the state that had more than 4,660 live births, those counties being Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Genesee and Kent counties.

onitoring the number of births and birth rates in an area is important because it directly impacts policy and budgeting as it relates to education and health care. In the U.S., and in Michigan, the number of births are dropping. For example, in 2017 in Michigan there was a total of 111,507, which was about 2 percent lower than what it was the previous year. As Michigan’s population ages but birth rates decline some are concerned that long-term this will affect the state’s economy and the talent pool.

Hamtramck Schools Have Highest Percentage of Students Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch

A few weeks ago Drawing Detroit explored how many students are eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services by county. With the percentage of students being eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services being a proxy measure of poverty, we wanted to dig deeper into the data to see what areas of each county had the highest and lowest percentage of services eligible for the service. 

Those who are eligible for free or reduced lunch prices are children in households that receive benefits from the Food Assistance Program or Family Independence Program. For example, in 2018, a family of four that has an annual income of about $33,000 or less was eligible for free or reduced lunch prices.

Hamtramck Public Schools may not be the most populated school district in Southeastern Michigan, but it has the highest percentage of students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services. According to the Michigan Department of Education, out of the 3,300 students enrolled in Hamtramck Public Schools, 3,115 are eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services. This translates to 94 percent of the school population being eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services. In total, there are only seven school districts in the region where 80 percent or more of the students in the district are eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services. Of those seven districts, four are in Wayne County (Hamtramck Public Schools, Detroit Public Schools, Highland Park Public Schools and Inkster Public Schools), two are in Macomb County (Mount Clemens Public School District and Van Dyke Public Schools) and one is in Oakland County (Oak Park Public Schools).

On the opposite end of the spectrum there are 14 school districts in the region where 20 percent or less of the student population is eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services. Northville Public Schools has the lowest percentage of students eligible at 6.5 percent. In total, of the 7,355 students enrolled in the school district, 483 are eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch benefits. Macomb and St. Clair counties are the only two in the region with no school districts with less than 20 percent of students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services. In St. Clair County, all the school districts have between 20 and 60 percent of students eligible and in Macomb County, majority of the school districts are in that same range. The exception in Macomb County is the Mount Clemens School District and the inner-ring Detroit school districts, such as Van Dyke Public Schools, Warren Consolidated Schools and others that are near the City of Detroit. In the more rural school districts to the west (in Washtenaw and Livingston counties) nearly all the school districts have less than 40 percent of students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services.

With majority of the school districts in the region having at least 20 percent or more of students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services, this highlights a need for more investment in our children, ensuring they have the resources mentally and physically grow. As noted earlier, this data also relates to the poverty levels in the region and further highlights how it affects our youth. 

Economic Indicators: Housing Prices $30K Higher Since 2014

In April of 2019 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 3.7, a decrease from the March unemployment rate of 4.4, according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of  Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate for April of 2018 was 0.2 points higher than what it was in December of 2019 (3.7).

The Detroit rate was 0.8 points lower in April of 2019 from the previous month. Also, the April 2019 unemployment rate for Detroit was the same as it was during the same time the previous year ( unemployment rate was 8 both years).



The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for April of 2018 and 2019. In April of 2019 Wayne County and St. Clair County both had the highest unemployment rates at 4.6. Washtenaw County had the lowest unemployment rate at 2.6. Washtenaw County was also the only county in the region to have a lower unemployment rate in April 2019 than in April 2018. Macomb and St. Clair counties had the highest difference in their unemployment rates between April 2018 and 2018; in that time frame the rates increased by 0.5. The unemployment rate for Wayne County increased by 0.4.



The above chart shows the Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area. The index includes the price for homes that have sold but does not include the price of new home construction, condos, or homes that have been remodeled.

According to the index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $123,370 in February 2019; this was $180 higher than the average family dwelling price in January. The February 2019 price was an increase of $5,710 from February of 2018 and an increase of $12,340 from February of 2017, an increase of $19,940 from February of 2016 and increase of  $26,490 from February of 2015 and, finally, an increase of 
$29,270 from February of 2014.

Wayne County has Highest Percentage of Children Owed Child Support

In 2017 Wayne County had the highest percentage of children owed child support in Southeastern Michigan at 26.6 percent. What this means is that among children who should  be receiving child support, there is a percentage in each county who are still owed something. The age of children looked at for this data was 0-19 years of age. Next to Wayne County, St. Clair County had the second highest percentage of children owed child support at 22.2 percent. Washtenaw County had the lowest percentage of children owed child support at 11.9 percent, and Livingston County was at 12.2 percent.

Just as Wayne County had the highest percentage of children owed child support, it also had the highest percentage of children owed child support who had not received any. According to the data, 33.2 percent of Wayne County children who were owed child support in 2017 had not received any. And, while Washtenaw County had the lowest percentage of children owed child support regionally, it had the second highest percentage of children who had not received any. In 2017, 19 percent of Washtenaw County children who were owed child support did not receive any. Livingston County had the lowest percentage of children who were owed child support but didn’t receive any at 7.3 percent. The difference in the percentage of children owed child support and the percentage who have received none could be dependent on several factors, including the median income and employment rates of that area and the resources a county dedicates to ensuring those who owe child support pay.

Child support plays a vital role in a child’s life by giving him or her additional resources to have access to financial security. Child support helps ensure a child has food, shelter and other daily necessities. Each situation involving child support differs, but in general, if a parent does not have full custody of a child he or she should anticipate paying at least 25 percent of their income for child support.

Wayne County Has Highest Percentage of Free/Reduced Lunch Eligible Students

Access to regular and nutritious meals is important, particularly for children. Having access to breakfast and lunch allows students to be able to focus better, have energy and to grow, both physically and mentally. For this reason, we have adopted programs to deliver free and reduced price lunches to children in difficult circumstances. The percentage of children eligible for free or reduced lunches prices thus tracks poverty levels in a school district or county, while at the same time representing an investment in our children.

Those who are eligible for free or reduced lunch prices arechildren in households that receive benefits from the Food Assistance Program or Family Independence Program. For example, in 2018, a family of four that has an annual income of about $33,000 or less was eligible for free or reduced lunch prices. As the map below shows, Wayne County had the highest percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunch in 2018, according to data from the 2019 Kids Count. In 2018 64.5 percent of school-aged children in Wayne County were eligible for free or reduced lunch prices. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 35.5 percent of children living in Wayne County in 2017 (the most recent data) were considered to be living below the poverty level. In 2017 a family of four was considered to be living below the poverty level if the annual household income was $24,600 or less. The county with the second highest percentage of school-aged children eligible for free or reduced lunch prices was Macomb County at 47.6 percent, and St. Clair County was slightly behind with 45.7 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch prices. And, for additional insight, the percentage of children living below the poverty level in 2017 in Macomb County was 17.6 percent, and the percentage of children living below the poverty level in St. Clair County was 19.2 percent.  Regionally, the county with the lowest percentage of children eligible for free or reduced lunch prices was Livingston County; 22 percent of students were eligible. The percentage of children living below the poverty level in Livingston County was 7 percent.



While we do know that the percentage of children eligible for free or reduced lunch prices is a proxy measure for poverty, the percentages for both data sets do not directly mimic one other. Additionally, the income guidelines differ for the overall poverty level and eligibility for free and reduced lunch. Overall though, we do see that areas with higher poverty levels have a higher percentage of children eligible for free or reduced lunch prices.