Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration’s Legislative Reform Package Paves Way for Needed Pretrial Prison Reform
LANSING, MI.—Prison Fellowship®, the nation's largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, is applauding the Michigan Legislature for acting to pass reforms recommended by the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.
This legislation encourages alternatives to arrest and jail detention, eliminates certain mandatory minimums, reclassifies low-level misdemeanors as civil infractions, removes unnecessary driver's license suspensions, and revises parole and probation polices to better accomplish the goals of supervision. These key reforms will result in smarter and more proportional use of jails in Michigan.
"In a deeply divided political moment, we applaud Michigan lawmakers for coming together to pass justice reforms that will keep families safer and stronger," Heather Rice-Minus, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Church Mobilization for Prison Fellowship. "Jail time should be reserved for cases where it is necessary to protect the public, a value that members of the Task Force and faith community have championed through this process."
"Not only does this legislation reflect the hard work and leadership of Governor Whitmer, leaders of the House and Senate, and the Pretrial Task Force members, but it will have very real impacts on the lives of people in Michigan," Kate Trammell, Director of Policy and Research for Prison Fellowship. "Over the last 40 years, the number of people held in Michigan county jails has almost tripled. People of faith across Michigan have raised their voice in support for concrete solutions to this problem that affirm the principles of human dignity, accountability, and fairness."
- On April 17, 2019, Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, signed Executive Order 2019-10, creating the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration to review the structures of pretrial justice in Michigan and recommend policy changes that would improve the justice system's efficiency and effectiveness.
- The Task Force consisted of representatives from the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches, representatives of localities and law enforcement, and key community stakeholders. Craig DeRoche, Former Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives and Emeritus Member of Prison Fellowship's Faith and Justice Fellowship program, served as a faith community representative.
- In January of 2020, the Task Force issued its Report and Recommendations, which suggested changes in policy categories ranging from traffic violations to jail alternatives.
- Legislators then crafted legislation to implement many of these reforms, including legislative packages to eliminate certain mandatory minimum jail sentences, remove unnecessary driver's license suspensions, provide alternatives to jail and arrest, and reclassify low-level misdemeanor offenses as civil infractions.
- Prison Fellowship has endorsed many of these bipartisan policies and worked to build support for the key reforms they implement.
- Prison Fellowship celebrates both the Task Force and the Legislature for their dedication to accomplishing justice that restores and seeing this legislation cross the finish line.