facebook linkedin twitter

Whitmer Signs Bipartisan State Jail Reform Package

January 5, 2021 by Reece Nations
A line at the Men's Central Jail. (Maria Alejandra Cardona/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a comprehensive package of criminal justice reform bills Monday that stemmed from policy recommendations by the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration. 

The year-long study from key stakeholders and criminal justice experts that led to the package’s conception was spearheaded by Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II and state Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, according to a release from Whitmer’s office. 

“As a former prosecutor, I recognize how critical it is to take steps toward a smarter and more equitable justice system that not only saves taxpayer money, but keeps people in their communities,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Over the last two years, we’ve worked with leaders on both sides of the aisle to make Michigan a national leader on criminal justice reform.” 

Whitmer continued, “I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, along with the bipartisan members of the task force, for their leadership in this effort. Today proves that it is possible to make tremendous progress to improve our state when we work together to get things done.” 

The 20 bills signed by Whitmer were authored and introduced by Republican and Democratic state senators and representatives, all of which passed with bipartisan support. The task force first began its work in July 2019 to determine how the state could “safely reduce jail populations and expand alternatives to incarceration,” according to the release. 

Previously, Michigan law provided minimal guidance in determining what cases call for alternatives to jail time. Consequently, jail populations in the state had tripled in fewer than 40 years, particularly in rural communities. 

“I’m extraordinarily proud of our collective work over the last two years to understand and improve the criminal justice system,” Gilchrist said in a statement. “Before Governor Whitmer and I took office, the system didn’t work for families, communities, or our state as a whole, but we made a conscious effort to make our state a national leader in reform, and the results speak for themselves. We must continue to work together to find ways to provide second chances through a smarter, safer, and more effective justice system.” 

The task force’s findings were based on a one-year study of the state’s jails and public input from a series of statewide meetings. Low-level infractions — such as driving with a suspended license, probation violations and other misdemeanors — were found by the task force to be “exhausting public safety resources” without “producing safer communities,” according to the release. 

The report published by the task force in Jan. 2020 included extensive findings on information like the demographics of prisoners, the length of sentences, the effectiveness of jail as an intervention and the statewide cost of incarceration to taxpayers. The bills were subject to ample vetting by state lawmakers and refined with input from judges, prosecutors, advocates for reform, sheriffs, victims of crime and members of the public. 

“Our courts and justice system belong to the people, and these reforms reflect a consensus-based process that brought together all who share our commitment to fairness, accountability, transparency, and efficiency,” McCormack said in a statement. “We have more work to do to continue making Michigan even safer, but we are now a national leader in implementing criminal justice reform that is data-driven, informed by research, responsive to community input, and committed to building public trust.”

A+
a-

State News

California Oil Spill Renews Calls to Ban Offshore Drilling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara... Read More

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara spill that sparked the modern environmental movement, and the latest spill off Huntington Beach is prompting fresh calls for an end to such drilling. That's easier... Read More

September 14, 2021
by Victoria Turner
State and Local Governments Will Drive Broadband Deployment Success

States will be at the helm of the $42.5 billion in block grants designated in the historic $65 billion proposed... Read More

States will be at the helm of the $42.5 billion in block grants designated in the historic $65 billion proposed for nationwide high-speed broadband within President Biden’s infrastructure bill.  The broadband-related funding of the bill itself shows the federal government recognizes broadband as essential as a... Read More

April 22, 2021
by TWN Staff
New Caucus Aims to Bring Main Street Priorities to Capitol Hill

Eighteen members of Congress on Wednesday announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus whose intent is to ensure that... Read More

Eighteen members of Congress on Wednesday announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus whose intent is to ensure that the priorities and concerns of cities and counties across America are heard on Capitol Hill. The bipartisan Congressional Caucus of Former Local Elected Officials was formed... Read More

April 16, 2021
by TWN Staff
35 States at Extreme Risk of Partisan Gerrymandering

Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs... Read More

Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs organization. The Gerrymandering Threat Index rates all 50 states, and its authors argue their findings underscore the urgent need to pass the redistricting reforms within the... Read More

Plan Afoot to Extend PPP Deadline to May 31

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 is gaining support in the House... Read More

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 is gaining support in the House and the Senate and will likely be voted on before lawmakers head back to their districts at the end of the month. The proposal to extend... Read More

March 2, 2021
by TWN Staff
Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Date Announced

WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the... Read More

WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the peak bloom for the cherry blossoms ringing the Tidal Basin in Washington is currently expected to occur April 2-5.  That means the most vivid of blooms... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top