Austin Gould and Andrew Cohen's Proposal on Crime in Detroit


Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Detroit Crime Media Artifact 

Prospectus Crime Michigan


Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).






Describe the specific issue or problem, being sure to provide sufficient context so that someone less familiar with the issue has a sense of the bigger picture, but know that your focus here is on a more detailed spelling out of the specific problem or issue that you’ve identified. (250 words minimum)

(In google doc form above as well)


The entire state of Michigan is being decimated by the drug trafficking epidemic. Year after year cities in Michigan, such as Detroit or Flint rank among the most dangerous cities in the nation. In fact, in 2015 the FBI released a record listing the most dangerous cities country-wide and Detroit was considered the 2nd most dangerous city and Flint the 11th. Much of this instability arises from the rapid usage and crime associated with drugs. Consequently, Michigan as a state has the 10th largest drug problem nationwide. What comes most alarming is the negative correlation in the state between drug usage and drug sentencing. Michigan is among the most active using states in America, yet the legal punishments in sentencing rank among the last in the country.


This epidemic is impacting everyone. Cities that drive economic stability in Michigan are falling victim to the suffocation of drug addiction. Students in elementary schools are blinded to reality of their elders, high schools and colleges exposed to drugs like cocaine and heroin, and many urban and non-urban citizens are dropping like flies to the harsh wrath of these intense drugs. The lack of synergy between usage and punishment lingers.


Much of the confusion in the legal system stems from using vs. possessing. For some reason, officials perceive possession of drugs like heroin or cocaine to be a considerably more dangerous offense than actually using the drugs themselves. Possessing 50 grams of heroin can sentence someone to 4 years in prison and up to $25,000. The consequences intensify as the quantity increases, respectively. However, what truly doesn’t add up is how actually using the heroin is only a misdemeanor or a maximum fine of $2,000. In Michigan, one’s license is suspended for six months upon a drug conviction, yet the restricted license duration lasts a miniscule 30 days. In essence, a person using these harmful drugs can walk away 30 days later still operating a vehicle. A solution to mitigate the usage of drugs in Michigan is to double down on sentencing and to alter some of these laws which insufficiently punish users. Thus, people have more incentive to not use the drugs since the consequences intensify; therefor mitigating the epidemic and future frequency of crime.



Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Institute revisit system for older patients prescribed opioids

Perhaps the largest impediment to drug-related crime is the simple limitation of a criminal’s ability to acquire drugs for resale. Recently, such offenders have turned to new markets in order to source popular opioids - the elderly. Oftentimes, older individuals finish their medication cycles, and still retain huge stockpiles of opioids. Due to the high resale value of such drugs on the street, individuals often see no issue with re-selling their remaining medication to supplement their incomes. In other cases, family members may pilfer drugs from older relatives, and similarly, explore resale opportunities with local drug dealers. Because federal investigative efforts focus on derailing the efforts of large-scale drug distributors, these local opioid pushers often go unscathed, AARP research indicates. Individuals aged 60 years or older now constitute over 16% of the state’s entire population, up 2.5% from 2010, with this figure expected to increase. As new regulatory measures continue to limit the ability of prescribers to engage with drug traffickers, and Michigan’s population continues to age, proponents of drug related crime will source product from this new market. In order to protect the state’s elderly population, and reduce the ability of criminals to operate, individuals at/above a delineated age (potentially 60 or older) should be required to revisit with their prescriber at more regular intervals (to be determined after future research) to determine the necessity of additional prescriptions . This measure would increase accountability on the part of the patient, and mitigate the risk of resale.

SOLUTION 2: Bolster rehabilitative programs for individuals in relevant age range

While common socio-cultural assumptions typically paint teenagers and individuals in their early 20s as the main perpetrators of drug-related crime, Penn State-led research indicates that in the United States, the offenders that commit such crimes are primarily in their early 30s. The nuance of this age disparity demands subsequent nuance in terms of policy making. As other states hurl millions from regional coffers to bolster after-school programs, giving up on their older citizens, Michigan should not. Young adults, disheartened by failed economic policy and lacking social welfare optionality, should not feel as if they must facilitate the distribution of controlled substances in order to provide for their families. Thus, the passage of increased funding for new and pre-existing rehabilitative efforts must be at the forefront of the state’s agenda. Specifically, rehabilitative programs for incarcerated individuals must increase, in addition to other necessary policy changes to address non-incarcerated individuals. National Institute of Health research demonstrates that 80-85% of prisoners who could benefit from drug-related treatment do not receive subsequent treatment. The state must catalyze the large-scale rehabilitation of individuals predisposed to committing drug related crime, instead of affording them no alternative.


SOLUTION 3: Mandate that statewide pharmacies/hospitals enter into partnership with MAPS database

In 2015, the state of Michigan staunchly addressed the presence of drug-related crime within the state by launching the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) to better regulate the movement of prescription drugs after point-of-sale interactions. Fortunately, this past year saw the outmoded system undergo a complete overhaul, thanks to a combined $4 million in grants from the state legislature. The database stores prescriber information, recent prescription request history, and considerable other data points that serve as key indicators of illicit activity concerning prescription drugs. Notably, Kroger has partnered with MAPS, and facilitated the full integration of data from their 105 pharmacies across the state to better manage the distribution of prescription drugs. In order to fully realize the potential of the bolstered MAPS system, the state legislature should require that remaining pharmacies/hospitals operating in Michigan also partner with MAPS. In addition to providing millions of additional data points with which to track the movement of prescription drugs, this measure would also allow for data scientists to examine regions within the state that experience high levels of unlawful activity, allowing politicians to more efficiently allocate tax dollars based on the regional severity of the respective problems.






Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.


Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.


Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?



The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.




(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).





(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?




Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  



These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.


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